Darrell Issa Might Delay Contempt Vote on Holder

Posted June 15, 2012 at 3:55pm

Updated: 5:27 p.m.

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said today that Attorney General Eric Holder’s offer to produce a key category of documents related to the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking probe is enough to delay bringing a contempt report before his committee.

“While I do have substantial concerns that these documents may not be sufficient to allow the Committee to complete its investigation,” Issa wrote in letter today to Holder, if the documents are delivered it would be “sufficient to justify the postponement of the proceeding to allow for the review of the materials.”

Holder offered Thursday to provide internal communications from after the Justice Department sent a Feb. 4, 2011, letter to Senate Judiciary ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) broadly denying that the tactics at the heart of the Fast and Furious operation were ever used.

In December 2011, the DOJ conceded that the operation was “fundamentally flawed” and rescinded the letter, as well as provided internal communications from the period during which the letter was drafted.

Issa has said that internal communications from after the letter was drafted and sent are key to understanding how senior DOJ officials realized the February 2011 letter was false, including whether officials were surprised to learn the tactics had been used.

Immediately after the offer was made, Issa spokeswoman Becca Glover Watkins said: “The DOJ letter only seems to indicate a willingness to offer a selective telling rather than full disclosure of key events that occurred after Feb. 4, 2011. We expect the Justice Department to quickly provide necessary details about how it is prepared to alter its opposition to producing subpoenaed documents.”

However, Issa’s letter today refers to subsequent staff-level talks between the two parties.

“In a meeting yesterday, the Department offered some additional details about the subset of post-February 4 documents you are willing to produce,” Issa said.

The letter also said Holder must provide a log of all the relevant documents it possesses, including those documents it is not releasing. The log should include “individualized explanations for why the Department believes these documents should not be produced pursuant to the subpoena,” the letter says.

DOJ spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said: “We are pleased that Chairman Issa has agreed to our request to meet next week and we look forward to a productive session. It is in the best interest of all parties to bring this matter to a final resolution by avoiding a confrontation that involves contempt and we believe that the provision of documents must be part of an agreement that brings this matter to a close.”