By James Kitfield
December 12, 2011Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell added his voice to a growing chorus of Republicans who charge the Justice Department with misleading Congress on key details surrounding Operation Fast and Furious.
The operation was a secret program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that allowed weapons to fall into the hands of drug cartels in Mexico, in hopes that they could be traced. Some of the weapons were found at the crime scene in the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.
At a House hearing last week, Republican lawmakers accused Attorney General Eric Holder of withholding key evidence in the case, such as emails, and of heavily redacting the documents it did provide. Despite Holder's contention that he is awaiting the results of an inspector general's investigation into the case before handing over some documents. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., a former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, threatened possible impeachment proceedings, though he declined to specify against whom.
McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, added to the rhetorical pressure on the Justice Department on Sunday. "We do believe [the Justice Department] is misleading Congress. I don't know what they are hiding, but we have asked for information, and they are stonewalling us," McConnell said on Fox News Sunday.
When asked whether the Justice Department was knowingly misleading Congress, and whether he would call for resignations, McConnell was noncommittal. "I'm not calling on any one's resignation today, but I am calling on them to be more forthcoming with strait answers," he said. "I don't know if it's `knowingly,' or not, but I don't believe they have been particularly truthful to Congress.
"I know that [Justice Criminal Division head Lanny Brueur] has misled Congress," he said. "So what are they hiding? I understand this might be embarrassing, but misleading Congress is not the way to go."
By James Kitfield
December 12, 2011