Holder to appear before Issa's panel

Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderFBI director defends agency after Trump attacks: It's an 'honor to represent you' FBI agents fire back at Trump: Saying we're not dedicated is 'simply false' Holder hits back at Trump: The FBI’s reputation is not in 'tatters' MORE is scheduled to testify about the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking operation before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next month.

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) made the announcement Wednesday as he criticized the Justice Department (DOJ) for mishandling Operation Fast and Furious, which the panel has been investigating for the past year.

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“The Department of Justice’s conduct in the investigation of Operation Fast and Furious has been nothing short of shameful,” Issa said in a statement.

Holder has maintained, in multiple appearances before Congress, that he did not approve of the controversial “gun walking” tactics used in Fast and Furious, which allowed for thousands of firearms to be sold to known and suspected straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels without providing surveillance.

Both Holder and President Obama have promised to hold accountable those officials who were responsible for the poor decisions in Fast and Furious once the inspector general’s (IG) report is completed. Holder ordered the investigation in March of last year.

Late last summer, the top two officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which oversaw the operation, were reassigned from their positions. And the top DOJ lawyer in Arizona handling the operation’s legal matters has resigned.

But Republicans have taken issue with a letter sent last year by the DOJ to Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Thanks to the farm lobby, the US is stuck with a broken ethanol policy MORE (R-Iowa), who as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee has led Congress’s investigation into the operation.

In the letter, the DOJ said that it made every attempt to intercept weapons before they crossed the southern border into Mexico and that it did not participate in letting guns “walk.” Testimony from ATF agents and information contained in thousands of documents subpoenaed by Issa contradict the letter’s information.

The DOJ has since withdrawn that letter. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee last month that, although the statements in the letter were not true, the DOJ did not intentionally lie to Congress. Rather, he said, the DOJ was operating from information that it believed to be true.

Issa was not satisfied with Holder’s testimony and launched a barrage of questions at the attorney general, occasionally refusing to give him time to answer. Issa requested that Holder appear before his own committee to answer questions about the letter and what Issa says are attempts to slow the panel’s investigation by not turning over all of the requested documents.

“From its initial denials that nothing improper occurred, to efforts to silence whistleblowers who wanted to tell Congress what really happened, to its continuing refusal to discuss or share documents related to this cover-up, the Justice Department has fought tooth and nail to hide the full truth about what occurred and what senior officials knew,” Issa said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Attorney General Holder must explain or reverse course on decisions that appear to put the careers of political appointees ahead of the need for accountability and the Department’s integrity,” Issa said.

The DOJ has repeatedly said that it is fully complying with Issa’s requests for documents but that in some cases the agency has declined to turn over information citing the ongoing prosecutions of several alleged criminals arrested through the operation.