Transcript: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Q&A on Operation Fast & Furious

Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Operation Fast and Furious with Attorney General Eric Holder on Nov. 8, 2011

Transcript of Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) Q&A:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. IMAGE SOURCE:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.):

“I agree with you that if we’re going to stop that flow of guns into Mexico – and I’ve heard the same thing with Mexican authorities – we’re going to have to take some steps here in this country. We can’t expect it all to be done across the border…

“In keep with my own rule on time, this will be my last question before turning to Sen. [Chuck] Grassley, who wants to ask you about Operation Fast and Furious. The subject has been explored during six previous Judiciary Committee hearings.

“I just want to review your testimony to the House Judiciary Committee here in May 3. When Congressman [Darrell] Issa asked you then when you first knew about the Fast and Furious program, you responded, ‘I’m not sure the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.’

“Now, as you know, there’s been a lot of talk about your reference to a few weeks, but those critics tend to not put the question in there along with your answer. In fact, you said in your answer that you were not precise, you were basically giving your recollection.

“I recalled by Feb. 28, you’d ask the Inspector General to begin an investigation into Fast and Furious. You also testified about the operation on March 10 in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“So let me ask you the fundamental question, giving you the chance to be more precise. When did you first learn of the operation tactics being used in Operation Fast and Furious, and what did you do about it?”


Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“I first learned about the tactics and the phrase Operation Fast and Furious at the beginning of this year, I think, when it became a matter of public controversy. In my testimony before the House committee, I did say a few weeks. I probably could have said a couple of months. I think what I said in terms of using the term ‘a few weeks’ was inaccurate based on what happened.

“I got from, as Sen. Grassley indicated, a couple of letters from him at the end of January – I believe, it was Jan. 31. These letters talked about a connection between an operation and the death of Agent [Brian] Terry and did not mention Fast and Furious; it referenced Operation Gunrunner. I asked my staff to look into this, and during the month of February, I became aware of Fast and Furious from press reports and other letters that I received from Sen. Grassley.

“I asked my staff to get to the bottom of that matter. We received information from the ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix that contradicted some of these public reports. It became clear to me that the matter needed to somehow be resolved. So as you indicated, Mr. Chairman, on Feb. 28th, I asked the Department of Justice Inspector General to investigate Operation Fast and Furious. On March 9, I directed the Deputy Attorney General to instruct all prosecutors and agents throughout the Justice Department not to engage in these flawed tactics that we found in Operation Fast and Furious. On March 9, I also confirmed the existence of the IG investigation. On March 10, I testified about this matter before the Senate Appropriations Committee. So clearly by the time I testified in May before the House Committee, I’d known about Fast and Furious for several weeks – as I’d indicated – a couple of months. But the focus on which day of which month, I think, in some ways is a bit of a distraction. It does nothing to address what I think concerns us the most and that is the flow of weapons from the United States across the southwest border.”



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