A day ahead of a vote to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said his committee is no longer even strongly suspicious that highest ranking law enforcement officer in the country knew that guns “walked” during the botched ATF operation known as Fast and Furious.
“During the inception and the participation through the death of Brian Terry, we have no evidence nor do we currently have strong suspicion” that Holder knew of the tactics, Issa said during testimony before the House Rules Committee on Wednesday.
“We have just the opposite, have a number of people, including Lanny Breuer, who should have known who’s responsibility was to know, that as part of our ongoing responsibility to figure out who was responsible,” Issa continued.
Issa also said he had no specific knowledge that the White House knew of the gunwalking tactics and said the committee wasn’t looking to the president.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member of the Oversight Committee, butted in as Issa was being questioned by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).
“We are now about to find in contempt the attorney general of the United States of America after you just heard that,” Cummings said.
“Sure,” replied Issa. “It’s not for what the attorney general knew about Fast and Furious, it’s about the attorney general’s refusal to provide the documents.”
Issa’s position on Holder’s knowledge of the tactics used is a reversal of what he claimed when he began his investigation last year, when he said the tactics went “all the way to the very top.” The California Republican has admitted to exploring “blind alleys” over the course of the investigation.
The House is set to vote on a resolution finding Holder in contempt tomorrow. The resolution focuses on DOJ’s opposition to disclosing internal Justice Department communications created after Feb. 4, 2011 unless Issa agrees to let that disclosure settle his subpoena.
Late update: House Democrats posted video of the exchange.