Issa says federal officer involved in a 'broad cover-up' in 'Fast and Furious' investigation

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Patrick Cunningham, the federal prosecutor who refused to appear before a committee headed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to investigate the failed “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation, is now being labeled as part of “a broad cover-up,” Issa said Tuesday morning.

“People do not take the Fifth when they’re working for the federal government and resign and get a lawyer if in fact they have nothing to hide,” Issa told Fox News this morning. “And this is someone who had a direct conduit to the top levels of justice, both Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer,” the attorney general and the head of the Justice Department's criminal division, respectively.

Cunningham, chief of the Phoenix office’s criminal division within the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona, claims to have clean hands in his part in Fast and Furious — an operation run out of Arizona and coordinated with the state’s U.S. Attorney's office that armed Mexican drug cartels linked to the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

“This individual clearly was part of the conduit of information so what we want to know [is] who knew what when we’re being told no one knew anything ever,” Issa said. “This is critical, and not having his honest testimony — I want him to protect himself from self-incrimination, but clearly he’s going further than that, he’s part of a board cover-up where we’re going to be asking people above and below him more questions.”

Cunningham is a target of investigation for not only the role he played in the Fast and Furious operation, but also his involvement in a letter sent from the Justice Department last year to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that contained false statements about the operation led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Attorney's office in Arizona.

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