AG Holder Agrees to Comply with Congressional Committee, on 'Fast and Furious'
June 15, 2012 • 12:03PM

In a response letter, yesterday, to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chairman Darrell Issa, Attorney General Eric Holder agreed to what he called "an extraordinary accommodation," to resolve the impasse over the Committee's subpoena for documents about Operation Fast and Furious. The accommodation is that Department of Justice staff will provide a briefing to the Committee, and documents, "explaining how the Department's understanding of the facts of Fast and Furious evolved during the post-February 4 [2011] letter" to Senator Charles Grassley. That letter denied that "gunwalking" had been involved in Fast and Furious. Holder proposes that this briefing occur by June 18. Issa has scheduled a vote on June 20, on a contempt citation against Holder for non-compliance with the Committee's subpoena.

Holder's letter follows a June 13 letter from Issa, which offered Holder a pathway other than contempt charges, "without the need to disclose sensitive documents created during Operation Fast and Furious," over disclosure of which, the DOJ had expressed fears. Holder's letter today said, disclosing those sensitive documents "would undermine the integrity and independence of the Department's core law enforcement operations."

That this agreement by Holder is a major concession (though perhaps not "extraordinary") may be seen in his offer to make good on DOJ's "stated willingness to drop its opposition to providing material from after February 4, 2011, that may reflect internal deliberations...", as Issa's letter put it. Up until now, Holder has refused to provide any information on deliberations after Feb. 4, nor has he declared Executive Privilege.

Now Holder says he wants to avoid a "constitutional crisis"—by which he likely means the near certainty that the Republican-dominated committee would hold him in contempt at the committee session scheduled now for June 20.

In a perhaps not-unrelated development, the DOJ announced yesterday that Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, head of the Office of Legislative Affairs, has resigned. Weich, whose office is responsible for liaison between DOJ and Congress, was the person who sent the February 4, 2011 letter to Congress, falsely denying the allegations of gunwalking in Fast and Furious.