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Holder Goes Back on His Word, Doesn't Provide Fast and Furious Documents at Meeting With Issa

“While I still hope the Department will reconsider its decision so tomorrow’s vote can be postponed, after this meeting I cannot say that I am optimistic."

(The Blaze/AP) – Despite Attorney General Eric Holder's recent pledge that his department would make an "extraordinary accommodation" in providing additional documents relating to Operation "Fast and Furious," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a statement Tuesday that the attorney general did not keep his word.

(Related: Eric Holder to Meet Face-to-Face With Darrell Issa to Discuss 'Fast and Furious')

After a 20-minute meeting at the Capitol Tuesday, Holder told reporters he would not turn over documents on Fast and Furious unless Issa agreed to another meeting. The attorney general says he would explain what is in the materials at that time. Holder says he wants an assurance from Issa that the transfer of the records would satisfy a subpoena from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Issa chairs.

Issa, who initially requested the documents to be delivered before the meeting, did not appear to be amused by the ploy. As of now, a vote on contempt charges is still on. Fox News filed this report on the proceedings:

“I had hoped that after this evening’s meeting I would be able to tell you that the Department had delivered documents that would justify the postponement of tomorrow’s vote on contempt.  The Department told the Committee on Thursday that it had documents it could produce that would answer our questions. Today, the Attorney General informed us that the Department would not be producing those documents. The only offer they made involved us ending our investigation," Issa's statement read.

“While I still hope the Department will reconsider its decision so tomorrow’s vote can be postponed, after this meeting I cannot say that I am optimistic.  At this point, we simply do not have the documents we have repeatedly said we need to justify the postponement of a contempt vote in committee.”

The House committee is after a "subset of Post February 4 documents," which Holder had previously agreed to provide on Tuesday, not at a future meeting.

“Chairman Issa has repeatedly stated over the past week that a postponement of Wednesday’s vote would only come after the delivery of a subset of Post February 4 documents that Attorney General Holder said he was prepared to produce and the Department of Justice further outlined to Committee investigators on Thursday, June 14,” a Tuesday release from Issa's office said.

“The length of any postponement would depend on the amount and substance of documents delivered.”

Issa argues the documents will shine light on a number of revelations about just how much knowledge Holder and the the U.S. Department of Justice as well as the Obama administration had about the Fast and Furious, including:

  • The Justice Department switching its view from denying whistleblower allegations to admitting they were true.
  • Hiding the identity of officials who led the charge to call whistleblowers liars and retaliate against them.
  • The reactions of top officials when confronted with evidence about gunwalking in Fast and Furious, including whether they were surprised or were already aware.
  • The Justice Department’s assessment of responsibility for officials who knew about reckless conduct or were negligent.
  • Whether senior officials and political appointees at fault in Operation Fast and Furious were held to the same standards as lower level career employees whom the Department has primarily blamed.

Operation Fast and Furious resulted in hundreds of weapons purchased at gun shops in Arizona ending up in Mexico, many of them at crime scenes. Initially, the department denied that gun-walking had taken place.

Relying on the tactic, federal agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives abandoned their usual practice of intercepting all weapons they believed to be illicitly purchased. Instead, the goal of gun-walking was to track such weapons to high-level arms traffickers, who had long eluded prosecution, and to dismantle their networks.

Gun-walking has long been barred by Justice Department policy, but federal agents in Arizona experimented with it in at least two investigations during the George W. Bush administration before Fast and Furious. These experiments came as the department was under widespread criticism that the old policy of arresting every suspected low-level straw purchaser was still allowing tens of thousands of guns to reach Mexico. A straw purchaser is an illicit buyer of guns for others.

The agents in Arizona lost track of many of the weapons in Operation Fast and Furious. Two of the guns that "walked" in the operation were found at the scene of the slaying of U.S. border agent Brian Terry.

Issa's committee has been investigating Fast and Furious for the past year and a half. Holder says the Justice Department has turned over about 7,600 pages of documents.

The Associated Press Contributed to this report.

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