Issa Presses DOJ Official on False Statement to Congress in Fast and Furious Probe
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa today pressed Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Ronald Weich for documents and other information related to a false statement Weich made to Congress regarding gun walking that took place in the reckless gun smuggling investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious. According to agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) “walking” guns occurs when agents or officials intentionally allow known criminals to leave the observation that occurs during a controlled law enforcement operation with weapons.On February 4, 2011, Weich stated the following in letter to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who had asked if allegations that officials had intentionally allowed criminals to guns had been “walked” in Operation Fast and Furious:
“ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”
Evidence gathered during the course of the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious has shown that this statement was untrue – ATF, in allowing guns to walk, did not make every effort to interdict them and prevent their transfer to Mexico. Evidence gathered in the investigation has also shown that senior Justice Department officials knew at the time Weich made his statement in February that it was untrue.
“Mr. Weich, as you are well aware, it is a crime to knowingly make false statements to Congress,” Chairman Issa writes in his letter to Weich. “As DOJ’s principal liaison to Congress, we rely on you to be straight with the facts. You have not been, and so your credibility on this issue has been seriously eroded. Whether it is the case that you were fed a lie and faithfully repeated it in a letter to Congress, or whether it is the case that you took the initiative to lie to Congress yourself, you are responsible for the contents of letters that bear your signature.”
Chairman Issa’s letter demands a complete list of individuals who helped prepare the February 4, 2011, letter to Senator Grassley as well as all documents relating to the preparation of that letter referring or relating to the development of DOJ’s response to Senator Grassley’s January 27, 2011 request for information.