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Friday, January 20, 2012

DOJ Official Pleading 5th In House Oversight Committee, Fast And Furious Investigation

By Susan Duclos

When a DOJ official, Patrick J. Cunningham, feels the need to cover his ass by pleading the fifth in a congressional investigation as to not "be compelled to be a witnesses against himself," which is a quote from the letter sent to the House Oversight Committee by Cunningham's attorney, Tobin Romero, then you know how big of a scandal the "Fast and Furious" government operation really is.

Cunningham was ordered Wednesday to appear before Chairman Darrell Issa and the House Oversight Committee regarding his role in the operation that sent more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa Cartel. Guns from the failed operation were found at the murder scene of Border Agent Brian Terry.

The letter from Cunningham’s Washington DC attorney stunned congressional staff. Last week, Cunningham, the second highest ranking U.S. Attorney in Arizona, was scheduled to appear before Issa‘s committee voluntarily. Then, he declined and Issa issued a subpoena.

Cunningham is represented by Tobin Romero of Williams and Connolly who is a specialist in white collar crime. In the letter, he suggests witnesses from the Department of Justice in Washington, who have spoken in support of Attorney General Eric Holder, are wrong or lying.

“Department of Justice officials have reported to the Committee that my client relayed inaccurate information to the Department upon which it relied in preparing its initial response to Congress. If, as you claim, Department officials have blamed my client, they have blamed him unfairly,” the letter to Issa says.

Romero claims Cunningham did nothing wrong and acted in good faith, but the Department of Justice in Washington is making him the fall guy, claiming he failed to accurately provide the Oversight Committee with information on the execution of Fast and Furious.

"To avoid needless preparation by the Committee and its staff for a deposition next week, I am writing to advise you that my client is going to assert his constitutional privilege not to be compelled to be a witness against himself." Romero told Issa.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa issued the following statement:

"The assertion of the fifth amendment by a senior Justice official is a significant indictment of the Department's integrity in Operation Fast and Furious. The former head of the ATF has previously told the committee that the Justice Department is managing its response to Operation Fast and Furious in a manner designed to protect its political appointees. This is the first time anyone has asserted their fifth amendment right in this investigation and heightens concerns that the Justice Department's motivation for refusing to hand over subpoenaed materials is a desire to shield responsible officials from criminal charges and other embarrassment.

"Coming a year after revelations about reckless conduct in Operation Fast and Furious were first brought to light, the assertion of the fifth amendment also raises questions about whether President Obama and Attorney General Holder have made a serious and adequate response to allegations raised by whistleblowers. Did Attorney General Holder really not know a senior Justice Department official fears criminal prosecution or is this just another example of him hiding important facts? The committee will continue to demand answers."

More at the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform website.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is being blocked at every turn from conducting clear oversight and investigating "Fast and Furious", by members of the Obama administration, who have already been shown to have provided false testimony.

Guns went missing from a government program, people died, guns from that operation were found at the scene of a murdered Border agent, there is nothing unreasonable about a full investigation to find out what went wrong, when and who is to blame.

The scandal of "Fast and Furious", in the long run, might be far smaller than the cover up by the Obama administration and their obstruction to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's search for answers.

There has been a massive effort along with a long list of Congressional members demanding Obama's Attorney General, Eric Holder's resignation, which has gone ignored by Barack Obama.