WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today urged Attorney General Eric Holder to produce any evidence to back a serious claim about a prior attorney general’s having knowledge about a gun-walking operation called Wide Receiver and to apologize if no such evidence is available. Holder made the claim about prior attorney general Michael Mukasey at a Judiciary Committee hearing this week. If any such evidence exists to back Holder’s claim, it has yet to come to light after months of scrutiny, and the charge should not stand without any evidence to back it up.
Grassley’s letter to Holder is available here. Supporting documents are available here.
Grassley, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement on the Holder charge.
On Fast and Furious, I was extremely disappointed to hear Attorney General Holder try to deflect criticism of himself and his Department by pointing the finger at his predecessor.
Specifically, he said to Senator Cornyn: “An Attorney General who I suppose you would hold in higher regard was briefed on these kinds of tactics in an operation called Wide Receiver and did nothing to stop them – nothing. Three hundred guns, at least, walked in that instance.”
That’s a serious charge. The problem is: we have absolutely zero evidence that it’s true.
Nothing in the documents produced by the Justice Department and no information provided by any whistleblowers that I know of suggests that Attorney General Mukasey was ever briefed about Wide Receiver. Period.
If Attorney General Holder made that kind of a charge about Attorney General Mukasey to this Committee without any evidence to back it up, that would be an outrage.
So, I’m sending a letter this morning to Attorney General Holder asking him to provide any evidence he has to support his allegation against Attorney General Mukasey.
And, I’m asking for a response before the hearing record is closed next week.
If he can’t produce evidence that Attorney General Mukasey was briefed on Wide Receiver, then he owes Mr. Mukasey an apology.
It appears to be an effort to shift blame away from himself, but I’m willing to hear his explanation.
The highest-ranking Justice Department official I’m aware of who knew about gun-walking in Wide Receiver is not Attorney General Mukasey. It is Lanny Breuer.
Breuer did nothing to stop ATF from walking guns after learning about it in April 2010. That is why I called on him to resign. The evidence shows he and his deputies did not focus on making sure ATF never did it again. Instead, emails indicate they discussed how to help ATF be prepared to minimize the potential embarrassment over gunwalking in the press.
If Attorney General Holder wants to criticize senior Department officials who knew about gunwalking and did nothing, he should start with the current head of his own Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer.