Justice Oversight Hearings today
Mostly desultory. The most clash came at the end of the second segment:
CHAFFETZ: I have a hard time believing, Mr. Attorney General -- with all due respect, my time is short. Twice, the president of the United States has gone before the American people and said that you had nothing to do with this; you weren't involved, that you weren't engaged in it, yet you say you've never spoken to the president.
How is it that he would know that you haven't been -- you weren't involved in this, and he could make such a claim, if you've never even spoken to him about it?
HOLDER: Well, the president gets information from the Justice Department in a variety of ways. We interact with the White House counsel's office very frequently. I don't know exactly what the flow of information is within the White House, but he can find out about my state of involvement in matters connected to the Justice Department without speaking directly to me.
CHAFFETZ: Let me move on to -- you have access to obviously the e-mails of Dennis Burke. On Wednesday, November 24th, 2010, he sent an e-mail that said, quote, "Some of the weapons bought by these clowns in Arizona have been directly traced to murders of elected officials in Mexico by the cartels. So Katie bar the door when we unveil this baby," end quote.
How is it that you've never had a discussion with your counterpart in Mexico about this?
In fact, in a Los Angeles Times article dated September 19th of this year, quote, "At no time did we know or were we made aware that there might have been arms trafficking permitted. In no way would we have allowed it because it is an attack on the safety of Mexicans."
It goes on in the article -- actually the paragraph before, "And to this date, she said, U.S. officials have not briefed her on the operation gone awry, nor have they apologized."
What is unacceptable is that you and everybody in your organization, according to the higher-ups, know about this investigation; you don't have 15 minutes to pick up the phone, and we have still never talked to these people in order to solve this problem, because, as you say, it's going to go on for some time.
HOLDER: We have taken steps -- I have taken steps to solve this problem in that I've ordered an examination of this to determine exactly what happened. I have issued directives that this should never happen again. We have put in place measures at ATF so that this kind of thing won't happen again. What Todd Jones has done with regard to the reforms that he has put in place, I think, are going to be extremely effective. And I've made personnel changes with regard to....
CHAFFETZ: You haven't fired anybody. Nobody's been fired.
SMITH: The gentleman's time has expired. Does the gentleman want to respond to the last question?
HOLDER: I just was trying to say that I have made personnel changes with regard to the agencies that have been involved, and these are initial determinations that I have made. It is not all that I am possibly going to do.
There is an impatience here, and in some ways I understand it. But the reality is that you have to do these things on the basis of evidence, on the basis of findings that are factually grounded. And when I am in that position, I will take the appropriate action. But I want to assure you and the American people that people will be held accountable for the mistakes that were made in Fast and Furious.
. . . . .
ISSA: A point of inquiry. Do political appointees of the presidents and the attorney general serve at the pleasure of the president or the attorney general, or do they need to have -- have to be fired for cause?