By Jordy Yager - 11/16/11 01:35 AM EST
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) is trying to get fellow Republicans to sign on to a letter asking for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder.
The letter, addressed to President Obama and the first of its kind, highlights Holder’s role in the botched gun-tracking operation known as Fast and Furious, which was run under the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Republicans have been investigating who authorized and had knowledge of Fast and Furious, which oversaw the sale of thousands of weapons in the Southwest region to known and suspected straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels. The majority of the weapons were lost, and two of the guns were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December.
“We call on you today to hold Attorney General Eric Holder accountable for Operation Fast and Furious — and urge you to ask for his immediate resignation,” the letter reads.
“In intentionally letting over 2,000 firearms ‘walk’ across the border into Mexico,” it continues, “the [ATF] — under the leadership of Attorney General Holder — carried out an operation that left a U.S. Border Patrol agent dead, broke federal law and attempted to build a case for gun control. Operation Fast and Furious has proved to be one of the most serious errors in judgment carried out in recent history by a federal agency.”
Holder requested an independent inspector general (IG) report on Fast and Furious, which is ongoing, and has said he will hold responsible the people involved in authorizing it.
The operational tactics used in the botched program include “gun walking,” which occurs when weapons are knowingly allowed into the hands of known or suspected criminals with no immediate effort to retake possession of the firearms.
Walsh began circulating the letter on Tuesday and pointed to an interview that Obama did with ABC last month in which he promised to hold officials responsible for the bad decisions that led to Fast and Furious.
“We ask you to fulfill this promise to the American people because, like you, they are upset and deserve answers,” said Walsh in his letter to Obama. “They also deserve accountability on behalf of their federal officials, especially those who are unelected, like Holder.”
Holder is set to testify next month before the House Judiciary Committee about his role in the operation and will face a barrage of sharp questions from Republicans.
Republicans are upset with the Justice Department for refusing to comply with portions of the subpoenas issued by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
They also question Holder’s previous testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in May, during which he said he found out about the operation several weeks before the hearing.
Last week, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder clarified that statement, saying that he became aware of Fast and Furious after it gained traction in the news media.
Republicans say Holder either knew about the operation and lied, or didn’t know about it and is incompetent.
Holder has said he did not know about Fast and Furious and should not have been expected to, given the large number of operations that take place under the DOJ umbrella. In August, the acting head and deputy of the ATF were removed from office.
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) on Tuesday said that if Obama does not ask Holder to step down, he would have dirt on his hands as well.
“If the president does not push Holder out, the president would be complicit in the Justice Department’s attempts to thwart a congressional investigation of Fast and Furious,” West said.
— Originally posted at 4:05 p.m. and updated at 8:35 p.m.