At yesterday’s hearing of the House Oversight Committee, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified under oath that the White House obstructed his investigation. Horowitz confirmed what is stated in the IG report, that he was not able to interview former National Security Council staff member Kevin O’Reilly, and that the White House refused to share internal White House communications, on the grounds that the White House is beyond the purview of the Inspector General’s Office, which has jurisdiction over the Department of Justice programs and personnel. Horowitz was asked by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) if the White House actions limited the scope of his investigation. Horowitz responded that it made it impossible to pursue that aspect of the case, a lead he wanted to follow.
Horowitz also stated that his investigation will continue. Among other things, he plans to release a report on the treatment of whistleblowers. He also stated that the whistleblowers have been vindicated by the conclusions of his report.
As a result of the release of the IG report, Chairman Issa reported that the Justice Department finally, last night, gave the committee the 300 documents which Holder had tried to use in order to get the committee to agree to end the investigation, prior to the vote to hold him in contempt. Horowitz also reported that the Justice Department has agreed to request that the 14 wiretap applications be unsealed by the courts, something the committee had asked Holder to do previously, but he had refused.
Horowitz also reported that a full-time employee of Homeland Security assigned to Operation Fast and Furious had also refused to be interviewed by the Inspector General. Issa asked why Secretary Janet Napolitano was unwilling to insist that this individual speak to the Inspector General.
During the course of the hearing, members of the committee praised Horowitz for the honesty of the report he issued, a report which served to silence many of the Democrats on the committee who had previously defended Holder.
As previously reported, Horowitz specifically concluded that the wiretap applications did indicate evidence of gunwalking, something which Eric Holder denied under oath.
Horowitz also stated that all of the over 100,000 documents he received in his investigation were relevant and important to the investigation. He was asked a number of times if he saw any reason why these same documents should not have been handed over to the committee. The implication of his answer was that they should have been.
However, a number of members of the committee disagreed with the conclusion that Horowitz came to regarding Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, which let Breuer off the hook. Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT) told Horowitz that he considered Horowitz to have been soft on Breuer. Issa, Chaffetz, and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) in particular focussed in on the fact that Breuer knew about gunwalking, that he had forwarded to his own personal computer a copy of the Feb. 4, 2011 letter to Senator Grassley denying gunwalking, that he described the letter as a “good job,” and that in Mexico at the same time as the letter was issued he advocated a policy of gunwalking.
When Horowitz said that Breuer had told him that he did not recall whether he had read the letter he had forwarded to his own personal computer, Gowdy in particular asked Horowitz what he, as a former prosecutor, thought about someone saying he did not recall. Horowitz had earlier reported that William Hoover of the ATF could not recall if he had attended a meeting which other witnesses said he had attended and that he, Horowitz, believed Hoover must have been at the meeting.
Horowitz was also asked directly if his personal relationship with Breuer influenced his thinking on this matter at all, which Horowitz denied.
Much was made about the fact that the IG report includes a discussion of emails in May 2010 between Deputy Assistant Atttorney General in the Criminal Divison Jason Weinstein (who just resigned) and William McMahan of the ATF, about wiretap applications. Horowitz said these emails were relevant to the IG investigation; however, the committee was not given these emails, which had been subpoenaed, even though the emails dated before Feb. 4, 2011.
Issa asked Horowitz if he regarded the failure to supply these emails to the committee or to even acknowledge their existence when they had been lawfully subpoenaed, to be a violation of the law. Horowitz said that it would have been his expectation that they would have been supplied.
At the end of the hearing Rep. Issa stated that obstructing Congress is a crime, and that Justice obstructed Congress. The Department of Justice did not respond truthfully to a subpoena. He asked Horowitz what he thought the committee should do. He also asked him if he, Horowitz, was going to make any criminal referrals related to the Feb. 4 letter, which had lied to Congress.
Although Horowitz claimed that he could not establish intent to lie to Congress, and therefore was not planning criminal referrals, the effect of his report and testimony has dealt a major blow to Obama and Holder.
Various members of the committee hammered away at the fact that Holder and others violated their duty to supervise and their the duty to inquire.
The fact that the DOJ Office of Public Affairs Director, Tracy Schmaler, has been discovered to have plotted with the George Soros-funded Media Matters to attack those investigating Fast and Furious, also came up in the hearing. Horowitz was asked if he knows if any members of the Oversight committee have been targetted by Schmaler and Media Matters, and if it is a crime to spend federal money for this purpose. One Congressman also asked if Media Matters had access ahead of time to the IG’s report.
In the end, Horowitz clearly did protect Lanny Breuer, but the affect of his report and testimony has severely discredited a Justice Department which has provided cover for a White House that is at the center today of a drive for thermonuclear war.
Despite impotent calls by a number of Democrats on the committee for the House to now drop its civil suit against AG Holder, Issa is intent on continuing the investigation. He proposed to Horowitz that the committee be granted access to the 100,000 pages that the IG received but the committee did not, and that perhaps there could be a side-by-side evaluation with committee members of the documents seen by the IG.
Other heads may soon roll at the DOJ.
The committee has not yet said when it will release Part II of its final report, which should be another bombshell.
Although the committee has undoubtedly not had a chance to review the 300 pages supplied to them last night by the DOJ, Issa did enter two of the documents into the record, including one on the Feb. 4 letter from Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, which was sent to Lanny Breuer, among others.
And now that the White House has obstructed the IG’s investigation, it is most likely that the committee will more aggressively pursue the White House, itself, for obstructing an investigation into its role in Operation Fast and Furious and the cover-up.