It’s Over?: House Dems Declare Fast and Furious Controversy Is Now “Settled”, Holder Skates
D J MELLONS/OPINION:
The House Oversight Committee let loose with a scathing assessment of Eric Holder in a recent report, accusing the Barack Obama-era attorney general of outright misleading Congress on its investigation of the “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal.
Among the report’s 300 pages is the committee’s finding that Holder regarded the family of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry as a “nuisance.”
How does this guy sleep at night?
Terry, of course, was killed in December 2010 by a firearm believed to be part of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Operation Fast and Furious program.
But key details of his death are fuzzy — like the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
It was just hours after the House Judiciary Committee Democrats voted to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress for withholding parts of the Mueller report that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the House Oversight Committee settled the 2012 contempt case against the DOJ.
The case was related to the “Fast and Furious” document subpoena demanded of Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder when Republicans held the majority.
It is now considered settled, since Democrats became the majority in the lower chamber and Elijah Cummings became Oversight Committee Chairman.
According to court documents, settlement negotiations first began January 2017 during the 115th Congress.
And by March 7, 2018, the Justice Department and the Oversight Committee signed a conditional settlement agreement with certain conditions.
These conditions included that the court would vacate certain rulings at issue on remand. But the court ruled last October that it would not vacate the rulings.
But this year, following a subsequent lapse in appropriations for the DOJ and the election of Cummings as Chair, “the parties resumed settlement negotiations in early February 2019. The parties informed this Court on April 4, 2019, that they had ‘made substantial progress towards a negotiated solution.’”
The settlement agreement states that the Oversight Committee “will take all necessary steps to voluntarily dismiss its appeal with prejudice in Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the United States House of Representatives v. Barr, No. 16-5078 (D.C. Cir.), marking the termination of all civil litigation between the parties arising out of the complaint filed by the Committee…”
The initial case with which Holder was charged with contempt by the House started from a botched federal gun-tracking program that came to light in 2010.
The program was known as “Operation Fast and Furious” by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the gun-walking program came out of the Arizona field office.
Federal investigators developed the program so licensed firearms dealers could sell guns to illegal straw purchasers and the U.S. government could track the firearms to Mexican cartel leaders, arrest them and dismantle their operations.
However, in 2010 it became known that the guns that ATF was supposed to track turned up at Mexican crime scenes where vicious murders took place and at the site where U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was slain by Mexican gang members in December of that year.
Holder was charged by the House with two separate contempt resolutions—criminal and civil—for withholding documents related to the Fast and Furious case.
But the criminal contempt charge was never prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney, because he served at the pleasure of Holder at the time. The civil charge, though, was a different matter and remained litigated in the court for the past seven years.
The charges against Holder also were connected to his testimony before Congress, when he claimed he was unaware of the operation until a few weeks before he came to testify.