Issa: no evidence of White House cover-up of 'Fast and Furious'
House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa said on Sunday that his committee has seen no evidence of White House involvement in what could be a Justice Department cover-up of the blundered "Fast and Furious" operation. The California Republican accused the Justice Department of lying about the sting and withholding documents from congressional investigators.
Tribune Washington bureau
WASHINGTON — House oversight-committee chairman Darrell Issa said Sunday that he has no evidence the White House was involved in what could be a Justice Department "cover-up" to contain fallout from the botched "Fast and Furious" operation.
In a series of interviews on Sunday television shows, the California Republican repeatedly accused Justice Department officials of lying to Congress about the gun-trafficking sting operation and withholding documents from congressional investigators.
But Issa acknowledged that his committee has seen no evidence the White House was involved.
"And I hope that they don't get involved," Issa said on "Fox News Sunday." "I hope that this stays at Justice, and I hope that Justice cooperates because, ultimately, Justice lied to the American people on Feb. 4, and they didn't make it right for 10 months."
Issa's committee voted last week to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, sending the matter to the full House for a vote expected this week. The vote quickly escalated the standoff with the administration over documents related to the now-defunct program in which agents allowed guns to be moved across the border with the hope of tracking them to Mexican cartels. Many weapons were lost and two were found at the scene in the killing of a U.S. border agent.
Republicans in Congress contend that the Justice Department has withheld documents that reveal how top officials responded to early inquiries about U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry's death.
President Obama asserted executive privilege on Thursday to withhold the documents, saying they are related to internal and confidential deliberations. The White House cast Issa's investigation as an election-year political witch hunt.
On ABC's "This Week," Issa called the administration's claim of privilege "overbroad or simply wrong." The committee is preparing a response to the administration in a letter that he said would probably be sent Sunday or Monday.
The chairman offered to reopen negotiations with the Justice Department if the administration would turn over to his committee documents it previously offered. The administration had been in talks with the Republican-led House committee, which for months has been investigating the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation.