Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn told Attorney General Eric Holder he should resign over his handling of Operation Fast & Furious and his decision to appoint U.S. Attorneys to investigate alleged national security leaks. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Attorney General said he wanted to sit down with congressional investigators and find a way to avoid a contempt citation related to Fast & Furious, the ATF operation that allowed guns to be smuggled across the Mexican border.
The hearing also included remarks by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Diane Feinstein, who said she supports Mr. Holder’s decision to appoint U.S. Attorneys instead of a Special Counsel to investigate the leaks which were revealed in a book and article written by David Sanger of the New York Times.
Mr. Holder was repeatedly asked about his appointment last Friday of two federal prosecutors to lead an investigation into leaks of national security information. Critics have accused the Administration of attempting to increase President Barack Obama's election possibilities.
Chairman Leahy pointed out that he hoped the committee had confidence in the U.S. Attorneys selected to lead the investigation, and that the committee had approved their original appointments on the basis of their ability to be impartial investigators.
Last week, Atty. Gen. Holder was asked at a House Oversight Cmte. hearing about leaked wiretap applications related to the government’s “Fast and Furious” operation aimed at arresting members of drug cartels. Committee Republicans said the documents show that senior Justice Department officials knew the operation involved a tactic known as gun walking, where smugglers are allowed to move guns across the border with Mexico.
The Attorney General said the documents contain no reference to gun walking. His testimony came before the annual House Justice Department Oversight hearing.
The operation allowed illegal gun purchases along the Southwest border in Arizona, intending to track the weapons to cartel leaders. Instead, around 1,700 guns were misplaced. Eventually they appeared at crime scenes in Mexico, and two were recovered after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in Tucson.
The Justice Department’s voting rights enforcement actions were also discussed, with Republican members questioning the Department’s effort to stop a purge of the voter roles in Florida.