Let me set the scene. The U.S. implements a gun-running program. Mexican drug cartels get thousands of weapons. A federal agent is murdered. No one is fired. Charges of a cover-up ensue. Documents continue to be withheld. And there are more questions than answers.
This is a situation where the Attorney General of the United States continues to change his story about what happened concerning Operation Fast & Furious, the botched gun-running program that resulted in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
In prior testimony, Attorney General Holder said he was not aware of this flawed program and the death of the agent until months after they occurred. That testimony was then retracted. And, in documents released just days ago - in advance of today's hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee - evidence that the Attorney General actually found out about the death of the border patrol agent, the very day it happened - not months later as he previously testified.
Rep. Darrell Issa, Committee Chairman, has told the Attorney General the he believes the Justice Department has "misrepresented facts and misled Congress" and said that Holder's "actions lead us to conclude that the department is actively engaged in a cover-up" because the DOJ refuses to comply with previous subpoenas. Rep. Issa accused the Justice Department of trying to "obstruct our investigation and deceive the public" by withholding documents. He's given the DOJ until February 9th to provide additional documents or face possible contempt of Congress charges.
As I told Megyn Kelly today on FOX News, the more we learn, the worse it gets. At today's hearing, tough questions, but really no new answers. The Attorney General maintains that there's been no cover-up, and told lawmakers he will release additional documents "to the extent that I can."
That answer was not satisfactory:
"The conclusion that I come to is there are some things in there that's being hidden that you don't want us to see," said Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind. "We have every right under the Constitution to check on what you're doing... So for you to deny this committee anything like that is just dead wrong and I don't think you're going to find any way that you can do it." Rep. Burton also noted that 93,000 documents related to the operation are being withheld by the Justice Department even though they've been turned over internally to the DOJ's inspector general, a political appointee. "And you're saying, well, the separation of powers prohibits you from (delivering them to Congress). That's baloney. That is just baloney," Rep. Burton told the Attorney General.
Even more important, the Attorney General today said no one has yet to be fired for this travesty.
"No I have not as yet -- as yet," Holder said. "There have been personnel changes made at ATF. We obviously have a new U.S. attorney in Arizona. We have made personnel switches at ATF. People have been moved out of positions."
Personnel changes? Moving people around? Ridiculous. The Attorney General says he will eventually fire those responsible once the investigation is complete. It's been 13 months and counting. How long can this continue? This from an Attorney General who said again today that he's not sure who authorized the fatally-flawed program and not even sure when he found out about it.
Here's the good news. The American people are engaged. We've heard from nearly 70,000 concerned citizens who are demanding that the Attorney General tell the truth. Take responsibility.
This issue isn't going away. There's more to come, to be sure. And, we will continue to put pressure on the White House and the Department of Justice to demand the truth - the facts - and demand that those responsible by punished.
Rep. Burton may have said it best when he was questioning the Attorney General today: "I think you're hiding behind something here . . . . It appears we're being stonewalled."