Attorney General Eric Holder went toe-to-toe with House Republicans on Thursday over the Justice Department’s handling of Operation Fast and Furious, the program which allowed weapons to flow over the border into Mexico.
The hearing was combative at times, with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) bringing in posters and boxes of documents to hammer his points home.
Issa, displaying a photo of Holder pointing a finger at a Daily Caller reporter as he accused him of being behind the calls for his resignation, said he hoped Holder “will not point fingers and say somehow this is not organic.”
In his opening statement, Holder said it was “unfortunate that some have used inflammatory and inappropriate rhetoric about one particular tragedy that occurred near the Southwest Border in an effort to score political points.”
Holder said it was important to “rise above partisan divisions and politically motivated ‘gotcha’ games.” He called on Congress to vote for a reporting requirement that would alert ATF when a single buyer buys massive quantities of semi-automatic weapons.
He also criticized Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) for suggesting that ATF used the fact that it was letting guns walk to support the implementation of a long gun reporting requirement.
“I say this with all due respect, take a step back and think about the implications of what you’re saying, is that the Justice Department came up with a flawed program in order to justify a regulation,” Holder told Lungren.
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) went after Republicans for not addressing the larger issues with gun trafficking.
“For those of you keeping score of this at home, one side is using this horrible screw up to justify a policy,” Quigley said. “The other side is using this horrible screw-up to justify not funding ATF, not giving the ATF a leader, continuing to make tracing difficult of guns, continuing to make releasing statistics difficult and for allowing continued extraordinarily lax policies for the violators and the purchasers of straw weapons.”