By Karen Finney - 06/25/12 10:22 PM EDT
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), along with the National Rifle Association, Rush Limbaugh and others, are trying to save Americans from an evil plot. Forget the economy. They believe the administration’s “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking program was used to flood Mexico with guns from America, foment violence and create political pressure to re-instate the assault weapons ban and weaken Second Amendment rights.
Over the weekend, Issa reaffirmed that belief on ABC’s “This Week” but admitted there is no evidence of such a plot or a White House cover-up of Fast and Furious. Back in April, Issa suggested the lack of evidence is the “smoking gun,” saying in an interview: “Could it be that what they really were thinking of was in fact to use this walking of guns in order to promote an assault weapons ban? Many think so. And [the administration] hasn’t come up with an explanation that would cause any of us not to agree.”
Issa’s investigation revealed he was briefed by the ATF on the number and type of guns being sold to “straw purchasers” and money being spent in April 2010. Officials at both ATF and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office told Issa’s investigators they had not briefed senior Obama administration in Washington, which supports Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony that he first learned about Fast and Furious in early 2011. (Holder actually ended the program and launched an investigation, which is ongoing.)
Documents also show former Bush administration Attorney General Mike Mukasey was fully aware of the use of gun-walking tactics, used in two previous programs during the George W. Bush administration, yet congressional Republicans have refused to call him to testify. When pressed on ABC, Issa essentially said that because they already have documents related to Bush administration involvement, there is no need to have Mukasey testify to shed light on his oversight of gun-walking.
Issa has also admitted that within more than 7,000 documents from the Department of Justice in response to numerous mission-creeping requests, and multiple testimonies by the attorney general, there is no evidence of a cover-up, wrong-doing by senior DOJ officials or secret plots to limit gun rights. Thus Issa’s current request has crept again, seeking documents from a period even further from the initial incident and DOJ discovery, hoping still for evidence of a clandestine anti-gun-control plot.
Thus, President Obama invoked executive privilege to end the taxpayer-funded fishing expedition. Republican opposition would have greater credibility had so many GOP lawmakers not taken the exact opposite position during the Bush administration in the politically motivated dismissal of seven U.S. attorneys. Despite numerous contradictions between sworn testimony from Bush DOJ officials, internal documents and public statements, congressional Republicans seemed to agree with then-Attorney General Mukasey, who advised Bush to invoke executive privilege over documents within the Cabinet agency as well as conversations with the president. This undermines any suggestion that privilege has been invoked to protect Obama.
Congressional Republicans say they take their lead from presidential hopeful Mitt Romney — is this really the fight the he wants to have right now?
Karen Finney is a political analyst for MSNBC and Democratic consultant, and co-host of POTUS/Sirius XM’s “The Flaks.”