GOP asks Napolitano why she didn’t meet with Holder on Fast and Furious

Republicans on Wednesday peppered Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano with questions regarding her involvement in a botched federal gun tracking operation.

Napolitano, appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, said she has not met with Attorney General Eric Holder about the Fast and Furious operation, which oversaw the sale of thousands of firearms to known and suspected straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels.

Republicans were outraged that Napolitano had not talked to Holder about the operation, saying that she should have done so when she learned that two of the weapons sold under Fast and Furious were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last year.

“For you to have two dead agents and to have never had a conversation with Eric Holder about Fast and Furious and about this is totally unacceptable,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

Napolitano fired back, saying that her immediate and longstanding concerns were to assist the FBI in its investigation and arrest of Terry’s killer. She said she has refrained from talking with Holder about the operation because it was led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which is overseen by the Justice Department (DOJ), and because it is being investigated by the DOJ’s inspector general.

“I know Mr. Chaffetz has his opinion on this matter, as the tone of his question reveals, but I simply would suggest that no one takes the death of agents more seriously than I,” Napolitano said. “One of the reasons that we have not directly dealt with the attorney general on this is that he very quickly and appropriately put this matter in the hands of the inspector general.”

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) pressed Napolitano, the former governor and attorney general of Arizona, on whether she would have approved the “gun-walking” tactics employed under Fast and Furious.

The process of gun-walking occurs when firearms are allowed to get into the hands of known or suspected criminals and agents do not immediately move to intercept them. 

Napolitano did not specifically say whether she would have allowed gun-walking to take place, but said she was never presented with that situation and that it is bad any time firearms end up in the hands of criminals.

“Every prosecutor makes different decisions, and I don’t believe I was ever presented with that decision,” said Napolitano.

“Obviously, I don’t want to let guns with the kind of firepower that we now know we’re involved [with] get out of your control.

“From a law enforcement perspective, yes, Fast and Furious is very troublesome,” she said.