Federal Justice Department Official to Plead Fifth on Fast and Furious

January 20, 2012 at 10:59 am (Brian Terry, Darrell Issa, Eric Holder, Fast and Furious, Justice Department, Patrick Cunningham)

Looks like there’s some dissention in the ranks.

Patrick J. Cunningham, a top justice department official was issued a subpoena by the committee investigating the Fast and Furious scandal.  We told you about a press release issued yesterday by Congressman Darrell Issa which stated, “Mr. Cunningham’s repeated refusals to testify voluntarily have forced the Committee to use compulsory process.”

Today, through his lawyer, Cunningham is pleading the fifth.

Fox News reports:

The chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona is refusing to testify before Congress regarding Operation Fast and Furious, the federal gun-running scandal that sent U.S. weapons to Mexico.


Patrick J. Cunningham informed the House Oversight Committee late Thursday through his attorney that he will use the Fifth Amendment protection.


I’m sure this means he has nothing to hide.

Further, it appears that there is trouble in Eric Holder’s corrupt little paradise.  Cunningham is claiming that he is being set up to take the fall in this scandal, because witnesses that are supporting the Attorney General are either “wrong or lying.”

“Department of Justice officials have reported to the Committee that my client relayed inaccurate information to the Department upon which it relied in preparing its initial response to Congress. If, as you claim, Department officials have blamed my client, they have blamed him unfairly,” the letter to Issa says.


Romero claims Cunningham did nothing wrong and acted in good faith, but the Department of Justice in Washington is making him the fall guy, claiming he failed to accurately provide the Oversight Committee with information on the execution of Fast and Furious.


The report concludes that, “This schism is the first big break in what has been a unified front in the government’s defense of itself in the gun-running scandal.”

Let’s hope so, for the sake of Brian Terry’s family.

UPDATE:

Congressman Issa responds, noting that the only information Cunningham is willing to provide is his name and title.  Clearly, something is being covered up here. 

Issa’s statement:

“The assertion of the fifth amendment by a senior Justice official is a significant indictment of the Department’s integrity in Operation Fast and Furious. The former head of the ATF has previously told the committee that the Justice Department is managing its response to Operation Fast and Furious in a manner designed to protect its political appointees. This is the first time anyone has asserted their fifth amendment right in this investigation and heightens concerns that the Justice Department’s motivation for refusing to hand over subpoenaed materials is a desire to shield responsible officials from criminal charges and other embarrassment.


“Coming a year after revelations about reckless conduct in Operation Fast and Furious were first brought to light, the assertion of the fifth amendment also raises questions about whether President Obama and Attorney General Holder have made a serious and adequate response to allegations raised by whistleblowers. Did Attorney General Holder really not know a senior Justice Department official fears criminal prosecution or is this just another example of him hiding important facts? The committee will continue to demand answers.”

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Issa Subpoenas Top Justice Department Official Regarding Fast and Furious

January 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm (Brian Terry, Darrell Issa, Department of Justice, Eric Holder, Fast and Furious, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Patrick Cunningham)

A press release from Congressman Darrell Issa’s Office indicates that a top Justice Department Official has been subpoenaed due to his unwillingness to cooperate with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Good to see Issa continuing to pursue the Fast and Furious scandal, though the bigger criminal is Holder himself.

WASHINGTON, DC – House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) today announced the issuance of a subpoena to Patrick J. Cunningham, Chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona. Mr. Cunningham’s repeated refusals to testify voluntarily have forced the Committee to use compulsory process.

“During the course of our investigation, the Committee has learned of the outsized role played by the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office – and you specifically – in approving the unacceptable tactics used in Fast and Furious,” Chairman Issa wrote to Cunningham in a letter informing him of the subpoena.  “Senior Justice Department officials have recently told the Committee that you relayed inaccurate and misleading information to the Department in preparation for its initial response to Congress.

“These officials told us that even after Congress began investigating Fast and Furious, you continued to insist that no unacceptable tactics were used.  In fact, documents obtained confidentially just last week appear to confirm that you remained steadfast in your belief that no unacceptable tactics were used, even after the Department’s initial response to the congressional inquiry.  Given that the Attorney General has labeled these tactics as unacceptable and Fast and Furious as ‘fundamentally flawed,’ this position is startling.

The subpoena requires Cunningham to appear on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 for a deposition.

A copy of the letter can be found here…
A little background on Fast and Furious via Politico:

The Fast and Furious operation drew fierce scrutiny when firearms linked to the program were found to be involved in the December 2010 shooting death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

The program attempted to investigate drug cartels and weapons traffickers but instead ended up supplying them with weapons. Investigators lost thousands of firearms, many of which wound up in Mexico.

AWR Hawkins at Big Government writes:

“…while it’s heartening to see Issa and his committee continuing to pursue those who might be covering up the truth on Fast and Furious, Eric Holder still has his job and has yet to face prosecution for his role in this lawless operation.”

“The bottom line: the wheels of justice are turning, they’re just moving so slowly that progress is imperceptible.”

At least Issa is putting a spotlight on this scandal.  If Holder had any decency he would resign.  Yesterday.

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