DOJ Shakeup: ATF Chief Reportedly Connected to ‘Fast and Furious’ Resigns
Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson– the man in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms during “Operation Fast and Furious”– is stepping down, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Melson’s resignation and reassignment comes in the middle of an investigation into the infamous gunrunner operation Fast and Furious. That program allowed straw purchasers to transfer guns bought in the U.S. across the Mexican border to drug cartels. Two weapons involved in the program were reportedly found at the scene of murdered U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry.
Melson is by no means out of a job. While perhaps a step down on the government ladder, his new role will be a senior position with the Department of Justice as adviser to the Office of Legal Programs.
Attorney Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that the U.S. Attorney in Minneapolis, B. Todd Jones, will take over for Melson as Acting Director, effective Wednesday. The Attorney General complemented Melson’s good work as Acting ATF Director and wished him well with his new responsibilities.
Melson previously gave testimony to Congress in July that high level Department of Justice officials tried to limit his cooperation with the Congressional investigation. During that closed door testimony, Director Melson appeared with his own private attorney.
Acting Director Melson has not been the only one to lose or change his job as a result of the Fast and Furious fallout. Fox News reports on the changes that:
“In Phoenix, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley, who oversaw Fast and Furious on a day-to-day basis, was reassigned from the criminal to civil division. Also in Phoenix, three out of the four whistleblowers involved in the case have been reassigned to new positions outside Arizona. Two are headed to Florida, one to South Carolina.”
There have been reports that three managers of Operation Fast and Furious below Melson’s level were promoted, but the ATF has denied the accuracy of those claims.
Some members of Congress have expressed dismay at what they believe is nothing more than bureaucratic reshuffling. Sen. John Cornyn has asked Justice officials for an accounting of all Fast and Furious cases in Texas, and told the Tribune:
“Instead of reassigning those responsible for Fast and Furious within the Department of Justice, Atty. Gen. Holder should ask for their resignations and come clean on all alleged gun-walking operations, including a detailed response to allegations of a Texas-based scheme.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also remains dedicated to unearthing the truth about “Operation Fast and Furious.” Through his Congressional investigation, Rep. Issa uncovered emails that showed Melson received briefings on the botched “Fast and Furious” operation.
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