Did Dems Forget Eric Holder’s Fast & Furious Scandal?

John Seiler
Former Editorial Writer at the Orange County Register

What were they thinking? California Democrats believe they scored a coup when then hired Eric Holder to give them legal counsel. The former attorney general also is a close friend of the president – the one leaving office Jan. 20, not the one moving in.

The New York Times quoted Senate President Kevin de León, “Having the former attorney general of the United States brings us a lot of firepower in order to prepare to safeguard the values of the people of California.” The Times reported, “Mr. de León said he expected California to challenge Washington – and defend itself from policies instituted in Washington – on issues including the environment, immigration and criminal justice. He said California Democrats decided to turn to Mr. Holder as they watched Mr. Trump assemble his cabinet and begin to set the tone for his presidency.”

But the first peep from Holder will bring Trump tweets about the Fast & Furious scandal. Trump is not shy about continuing his tweets on ethical issues. A tweet just forced House Republicans to abandon their plan to eviscerate the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

How about this tweet: “Holder will do to CA what he did to Fast & Furious: coverup. Shameful.”

Trump also aims at opponents what Scott “Dilbert” Adams calls “Linguistic Kill Shots”: Little Marco, Low-Energy Jeb, Crooked Hillary. Will it be Fast & Furious Eric?

According to a National Review summary, Fast & Furious was “designed to help the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) dismantle drug cartels operating inside the United States and disrupt drug-trafficking routes. Instead, it put into the hands of criminals south of the border some 2,000 weapons, which have been used to kill hundreds of Mexicans and at least one American, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry….

“By the summer of 2012, Holder and the House Oversight Committee were at a standoff, the attorney general claiming he had been fully responsive to the committee’s request for documents, [Committee Chairman and California Republican Rep. Darrell] Issa claiming that the DOJ had withheld 1,300 key pages. President Obama, intervening, declared that the documents were protected under executive privilege – a risible claim, legally, and a suggestive one, given the White House’s denial of involvement. In late June, at the recommendation of the committee, Holder became the first sitting member of a presidential cabinet to be held in contempt by the House of Representatives.”

But on January 20, 2017 the Justice Department will come under the control of Trump and his nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions. All those document could be released to Congress. Issa no longer sits on the committee, but he remains a powerful congressman, chairing the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. His website says it “has jurisdiction over the following subject matters: Administration of U.S. Courts, Federal Rules of Evidence, Civil and Appellate Procedure, judicial ethics, patent and trademark law, information technology, other appropriate matters as referred to by the Chairman and relevant oversight.”

Think he might hold hearings on “Federal Rules of Evidence” that subpoena those documents Holder withheld from Fast & Furious? Think Sessions would be happy to turn them over? What’s there? Inquiring minds want to know.

The current chairman of the House Oversight Committee is Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah. When new documents on the scandal were released under court order last year, on April 14 he released a Flash Memorandum to Republican committee members, reading:

“More than previously understood, the documents show the lengths to which senior Department officials went to keep information from Congress. Further, the documents reveal how senior Justice Department officials – including Attorney General Eric Holder – intensely followed and managed an effort to carefully limit and obstruct the information produced to Congress. Justice Department officials in Washington impeded the congressional investigation in several ways, including:

  • “Presuming that allegations about gunwalking in Arizona were false and refusing to adjust when documents and evidence showed otherwise.
  • “Politicizing decisions about how and whether to comply with the congressional investigation.
  • “Devising strategies to redact or otherwise withhold relevant information from Congress and the public.
  • “Isolating the fallout from the Fast and Furious scandal to ATF leadership and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona.
  • “Creating a culture of animosity towards congressional oversight.”

At that time nine months ago, it seemed Hillary Clinton would become the next president and continue the Holder cover-up of Fast & Furious. So there wasn’t much Chaffetz could do.

Now he can. So can Sessions. So can Trump.

But California Democrats, isolated in their coastal #Calexit cocoon, can’t see that. Soon they will.

29-year Orange County Register editorial writer, columnist and editor John Seiler now writes freelance. Email: writejohnseiler@gmail.com

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