Updated: Nov. 8, 1:12PM
Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed on Tuesday that the Justice Department’s internal investigators were looking into “a couple of leaks” related to ATF’s flawed Operation Fast and Furious.
But he was pretty upset that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made the probe public in the first place.
In a hearing on Tuesday, Grassley related a private conversation that he had with Holder about a document that was supposed to be private that the Justice Department provided to the press. The name of the ATF agent was not deleted from the document, which Grassley said was a violation of the Privacy Act.
“It almost pains me — and please don’t take this away from Senator Grassley’s time — it pains me that, as you said, we had a private conversation, you sent me a handwritten note — that I took very seriously,” a visibly frustrated Holder responded.
“You and I have worked together on a variety of issues, I think I have a good relationship with you, you sent me a handwritten note that I looked at, took seriously, referred that letter to [the Office of Professional Responsibility] or the [Office of the Inspector General] — I’m not sure which of the two — and asked them to try to find out what happened,” Holder continued.
“I called you to try to indicate to you that I had taken that matter seriously, that action had been taken,” Holder said. “In a different time in Washington, I’m not sure that necessarily what you just said would have been shared with everyone here, but so be it, it’s a different time I suppose.”
Grassley said that he told Holder during their phone conversation that if he didn’t want him to ask the question, he should have informed his staff “because I worked very closely with my staff,” and “give the details so that I would know that this would be an inappropriate question to ask at the hearing.”
Late update: Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) were apparently concerned that a leaked document “contained information protected under the Privacy Act regarding ATF whistleblower John Dodson’s participation in an undercover law enforcement operation.”