Transcript: House Judiciary hearing Q&A between Rep. Darrell Issa & AG Eric Holder on Operation Fast & Furious

Transcript of Q&A between Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Attorney General Eric Holder on Operation Fast and Furious before the House Judiciary Committee on June 7, 2012: 

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on June 7, 2012. SOURCE: C-Span.org

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.): 

“Attorney General.

“Dec. 14, 2010 Brian Terry was gunned down and we began knowing about Fast and Furious shortly thereafter. But you have said – people representing you have said repeatedly you didn’t know about it before then.

“I’ve sent you a number of letters. Sen. [Chuck] Grassley (R-Iowa) sent you a number of letters.

“You mentioned in your opening statement the Speaker’s letter. The Speaker did not limit the scope of the subpoenas you’re under an obligation to respond to. He simply asked you for response to two key inquiries. He did not revoke any subpoenas.

“However, you implied that we were working together when in fact since May 18 nothing – nothing – has come from your Department. Not one shred of paper.


“I want to ask you, first of all, today: Have you and your attorneys produced internally the materials responsive to the subpoenas?”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“We believe we have responded to the subpoenas…”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

[Interrupting and shouting]

“No! Mr. Attorney General, you’re not a good witness. A good witness answers the question asked. So let’s go back again.

“Have you and your attorneys produced internally the materials in response – in other words, if you have taken the time to look up our subpoena and find out what material you have responsive to it or you’ve simply invented a privilege that doesn’t exist?”

Attorney General Eric Holder:

“You say internally, have we…?”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

[Interrupting]

“Internally! Have you pulled all that information?”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“We’ve looked at 240 custodians, processed millions of electronic records and reviewed over 140,000 documents and produced to you about 7,600.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

“So, 140,000 documents. How many documents are responsive but you are withholding at this time?”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“Well, we’ve produced 7,600…”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

[Interrupting and shouting]

“Look, I don’t want to hear about the 7,600!”

Unknown committee member off-camera: 

“Mr. Chairman, I would beg to allow…”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

[Shouting]

“Hey! The lady is out of order!”

[Overlapping dialogue]

Unknown committee member off-camera:

“Mr. Chairman, a parliamentary inquiry. Excuse me, Mr. Chairman. I beg to allow the Attorney General to be able to finish his answer.”

Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas):

“The Attorney General will be allowed to answer the question.”

Unknown committee member off-camera:

“I thank the Chairman.”

Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas):

“And the Attorney General will have more time to do that if we don’t have interruptions.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

“And I would like my time reclaimed that was used up by the lady.”

A different committee member off-camera:

“Mr. Chairman, I suggest that we take back the time that Mr. Lungren used – the two minutes over his time that he used…”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

“You want to give me an additional two minutes? I’m fine with it.”

A different committee member off-camera:

“I’m going to give you the 45 seconds that I yielded back but the – we’re going to apply our rule on one side of the aisle then we ought to apply the rule consistently…”

Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas):

“Let’s get back…the gentleman from California has the time and the Attorney General will be allowed to answer the question.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

“Isn’t it true, Mr. Attorney General, that you have not produced a log of materials withheld even though our investigators have asked for it?”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“I know that – I’m not sure about that. I know that -”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

[Interrupting]

“Okay. I’m sure you didn’t. So let’s move on.”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“March 15, 2010. Before Brian Terry was gunned down. April 19, 2010. Before Brian Terry was gunned down. May 7, 2010. Before Brian Terry was gunned down. May 17, 2010. Before Brian Terry was gunned down. June 2, 2010. Before Brian Terry was gunned down. July 2. The real date of our independence – uh, 2010. Obviously earlier. Before Brian Terry was gunned down.

“These wiretap applications – which we did not subpoena but was given to us by a furious group of whistleblowers that are tired of your stonewalling – indicate that a number of key individuals in your administration in fact were responsible for information contained in here that clearly shows that the tactics of Fast and Furious were known. They were known and are contained in these wiretaps.

“I understand that you’ve read these wiretaps since we’ve brought them to your attention, is that correct?”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“I have read them and I disagree with the conclusion you just reached.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

“So let me go through a very simple line of question, if I may, Mr. Attorney General.”

[Reading from a document]

“James Cole, Deputy Attorney General, has written that the Department has a greater obligation than just checking the legal sufficiency in approving wiretap applications. He thinks that applications also have to comply with DOJ policy, is that correct?”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“Applications have to agree with DOJ policy?”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

“That’s what he said.”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“Sure.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

“Okay. During a transcribed interview Deputy Assistant Attorney General – Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein testified that senior officials approving the wiretap applications do not read the right wiretap applications. Is this practice acceptable to you?”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“They read summaries of the applications. That is a process that has been used by this administration and by all previous administrations. It is the way in which the Office of Enforcement – ”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

[Interrupting]

“And are you aware that federal judges to your knowledge…”

Attorney General Eric Holder 

“…Can I answer my question? The question you’ve asked?”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

“No! You’ve given me a sufficient answer considering the amount of questions that I have and the amount of time I have. Are you okay with that practice? You’ve already answered that.

“So, would you agree that senior officials responsible for documents they sign – I would assume the answer is yes.

“So now let me ask you the question: Jason Weinstein. Is he responsible for what is in these wiretaps?”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“Is he responsible…?”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.): 

“He’s the responsible officer under statute. Is he responsible for them even if he only read a summary?”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“He did not create those affidavits. He did not create that material. He would have been a person as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General who would review those – ”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

[Interrupting]

“So when Congress that writes a statute that requiring certain individuals be responsible, such as Jason Weinstein, Lanny Breuer and yourself…”

Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.): “Regular order, Mr. Chairman. Regular order, Mr. Chairman.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

“I’m in the middle of a question!”

Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas):

“The Attorney General will be allowed to answer this question.”

Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.): “He hadn’t asked a question…”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

“I’m halfway though it if you’ll quit interrupting.”

“If in fact the statute says they’re responsible and if in fact they’re not read, then in fact how are American people to understand who is responsible for what is contained in these documents [overlapping dialogue]…

“Because anyone of ordinary reading, including the ATF director, the former director [Kenneth] Melson – anyone reading these according to him would have to be sick to their stomach because   they would be immediately aware of…”

Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.): “Regular order, Mr. Chairman. Regular order, Mr. Chairman.

“Does he have a question, Mr. Chairman?”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

“So who is responsible, Mr. Attorney General?”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“All right. You’ve really conflated a bunch of things here.

“The responsibility – ”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.):  

[Interrupting]

“You’ve delivered so little…”

Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.):

“Regular order now, Mr. Chairman. Will he be allowed to answer the question?”

Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): 

“The Attorney General will be allowed to answer the question but I’d appreciate no more interruptions so the AG can answer the question.”

Attorney General Eric Holder: 

“The responsibility about which you speak is in fact the responsibility of a Deputy Assistant Attorney General looking at those summaries to make sure that there is a basis to go into court and to ask that court to grant the wiretap based on the determination that a responsible official makes that probable cause exist to believe that a wire facility has been used in the commission of a crime. They do not look at the affidavits to see if in fact – to review all that is engaged all that is involved in the operation.

“I have read those now. I have read those. I have read those. I have read them from Wide Receiver as well. And I can say that what’s happened in connection with Fast and Furious was done in the same way as wiretap applications were done under the previous administration in Wide Receiver. I’ve looked at the summaries, and they acted in a way that’s consistent with the practice and the responsibility as they have as defined by the statute.”

 

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