By Jordy Yager - 10/06/11 06:52 PM EDT
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) on Thursday called for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign over his role in a botched gun-tracking operation, and questioned whether he was protecting President Obama.
Labrador pointed to a series of internal Justice Department memos released this week that contradict statements Holder made under sworn oath before Congress about when he was first told about Operation Fast and Furious.
“As our nation’s top enforcer of the principles of law and justice, Mr. Holder has lost all credibility and should step down immediately. The question now is if Mr. Holder is only protecting himself or is he also protecting others — perhaps all the way to the top of the administration.”
In testimony May 3 before the House Judiciary Committee, Holder told Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) that the Fast and Furious operation had been conducted without his knowledge.
“I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks,” Holder said at the time. He later said he “probably” learned about the operation before Obama discussed it in a March 22 interview with Univision.
Obama and White House press secretary Jay Carney have come to Holder’s defense, saying the attorney general’s comments were in reference to the controversial tactics of “walking” guns into the hands of known and suspected criminals without a plan to adequately monitor them.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, have been investigating who gave the ultimate authorization for Fast and Furious.
Both lawmakers have long complained that the DOJ is not being forthcoming with the documents that they’ve requested and subpoenaed.
Officials with the DOJ have offered to share many of the documents with members of Issa’s staff in-camera, saying that they don’t wish to turn them over, lest several ongoing prosecutions of suspected gun runners arrested through the operation would be jeopardized.
Labrador said he thinks Holder lied to Congress in his comments earlier this year and that his reluctance to hand over the requested documents about the operation are further reason he should resign.
“Attorney General Holder has a troubling pattern of failed cooperation with the legislative branch,” Labrador said. “Because of this intentional stonewalling and his misleading testimony, I now call for Mr. Holder’s resignation.
“It is clear he has not been honest about the extent of his involvement with the failed Fast and Furious program and should not be entrusted with managing the Department of Justice.”
Operation Fast and Furious was launched by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2009 and oversaw the sale of thousands of firearms to known and suspected straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels in the Southwest. Two of the weapons sold under the operation were later found at the Arizona murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Labrador is not the first Republican to call for Holder’s resignation over Fast and Furious.
Earlier this week, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the “only honorable thing” for Holder to do is resign — though he said he doubted he would.
There have been a plethora of calls for Holder to resign since he became attorney general in 2009.
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) called for Holder to resign in June over his role in Fast and Furious.
“The president needs to realize that Eric Holder needs to be removed from the Department of Justice,” West said in an interview with a Tennessee radio station. “Or else I believe President Obama is complicit and he is in approval of the actions of his attorney general.”
Issa called Holder’s ability to serve as attorney general into question at the beginning of the year over the DOJ’s dismissal of the voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and the lack of prosecution over the Wikileaks document dump.
“He’s hurting this administration,” Issa said in an interview with Fox News. “If you’re hurting the administration, either stop hurting the administration, or leave.”
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called on Holder to resign over the DOJ’s push to hold Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s trial in New York City.
“If he feels this strongly about it, if this is such a great moral and issue of conscience for him, then Eric Holder should resign,” King said in an interview with Fox News.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, then a Republican presidential candidate, told a California radio station that Holder should resign over his role in trying Ahmed Ghailani in a civilian court.