Holder to Issa: Let's meet face to face

With a contempt vote looming, Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday offered to personally brief Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) about the botched Justice Department operation "Fast and Furious."

In a letter to the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Holder offered to meet with Issa on Monday and discuss Justice’s knowledge of the controversial “gun walking” tactics used in Fast and Furious, including information about whistleblowers. 

“We believe that this briefing, and the documents we are prepared to provide, which will include information you have requested regarding whistleblowers — will fully address the remaining concerns identified in the recent letters to me from you and House Leadership,” wrote Holder to Issa on Thursday.   

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Issa has threatened to place Holder in contempt of Congress if he does not comply with a subpoena demanding documents from the Department of Justice (DOJ) about the failed gun-tracking operation. A committee vote on the contempt measure is scheduled for Wednesday.

After scheduling the vote, Issa narrowed his request to Holder for information. Justice had argued it was not possible to provide all the documents Issa was seeking because they included highly sensitive information being used in ongoing cases.

The powerful Republican chairman is now asking for internal information from after Feb. 4, 2011, when the department sent a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) denying that officials ever allowed guns to “walk” into the hand of criminals. Nine months later, DOJ took the rare step of withdrawing the letter to Grassley because it contained information that was not true. 

Holder Thursday said he is willing to accommodate Issa’s request.

“The department is prepared to offer an extraordinary accommodation of the committee’s interest in those issues by providing a briefing, based on documents that the committee could retain, explaining how the Department’s understanding of the facts of Fast and Furious evolved during the post-February 4 period, and the process that led to the withdrawal of the February 4 letter,” he wrote. 

In order to ensure that the briefing satisfies Issa’s requests of the DOJ, Holder asked to personally meet with the Republican.

“The department’s willingness to provide these materials is a serious, good faith effort to bring this matter to an amicable resolution,” Holder wrote. 

“However, because as the chairman only you have the authority to bind the committee, I continue to believe that a meeting is required both to assure that there are no misunderstandings about this matter and to confirm that the contents of the proposal we are making will be deemed sufficient to render the process of contempt unnecessary.”

“l seek your direct engagement for precisely that reason, and I propose that the meeting occur by Monday, June 18, 2012,” Holder said.


Issa's office said it was not certain that Holder's proposed briefing would satisfy the committee's subpoena and it was worried that it wouldn't provide "full disclosure."

"The DOJ letter only seems to indicate a willingness to offer a selective telling rather than full disclosure of key events that occurred after February 4, 2011," said Issa spokeswoman Becca Watkins in a statement. "We expect the Justice Department to quickly provide necessary details about how it is prepared to alter its opposition to producing subpoenaed documents."

— This story was updated at 3:42 p.m.