Representative Tom Graves (R-Ga.-09) released the following statement Wednesday after the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voted to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over his refusal to cooperate with the investigation of the controversial “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation:
“The full House has no choice but to move forward with a vote to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress. The Attorney General has repeatedly ignored calls from members of Congress to cooperate with a joint investigation into reckless conduct during this botched operation. And, only after a vote to hold him in contempt was scheduled, did Mr. Holder engage in a last-ditch effort to find a political way to avoid the committee’s contempt vote. It was too little, too late. If Mr. Holder won’t do his job and report the information on Fast and Furious voluntarily, Congress must force him to answer to the American people.”
The “Fast and Furious” program oversaw sales of nearly 2,000 firearms to suspected Mexican drug cartels in an attempt to trace gun trafficking. But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) recovered only 567 of the guns. Many of the guns were found at violent crime scenes, including at the shooting death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
It will now be up to the full House to vote on whether the Attorney General should be held in contempt. The committee’s vote came on the heels of President Obama’s decision to grant the Attorney General’s 11th hour request to exert executive privilege over “Fast and Furious” documents. Rep. Graves co-sponsored H.R. 490 earlier this year, which expressed no confidence in Holder’s leadership of the Justice Department. Rep. Graves also signed a letter sent to President Obama in 2011, urging the President to hold Mr. Holder accountable for Fast and Furious – and to ask for his resignation.
Rep. Graves' full remarks in the opening statement before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee are as follows:
"Mr. Chairman, thank you for bringing us here today, and thank you for diligence in pursuing this extremely important matter.
"I truly wish that it hadn’t gotten to this point, but the actions of the Justice Department have left us with no other choice. This is far from political theater. This is a legitimate investigation into an operation – the Fast and the Furious – that was so flawed that it flew right into the face of common sense. There are many people in this room on both sides of the aisle that would agree that one person – any person – within the chain of command in this federal bureaucracy should have stopped this gun walking operation that put the lives of law enforcement officials and innocent citizens in harm’s way.
"We were originally told that this was a flawed decision made by local officials. Then we learned that, in fact, there was significant information known by officials in Washington about the conception and execution of this operation. At the Oversight Committee hearing on February 2, 2012, I learned that information required for this committee to complete its investigation into Operation Fast and Furious is being held inside “Fortress Holder.” It is high time for the Attorney General to stop the stalling tactics and produce the documents the Committee has been seeking.
"I am concerned that my remarks at that hearing have turned out to be prophetic. I said then that “what may appear as political appears now somewhat as a cover up. A lot of information here doesn't seem to be accurate and I think that's why the number of hearings continue to go on, because I don't think we're getting the full information.”
"The Obama Administration and the Justice Department cannot continue to stonewall the Committee any longer. The American people want answers. Agent Terry’s family deserves answers. It’s time for the Attorney General to produce the documents. As I made clear in a recent statement, “We have given the Attorney General ample opportunity to come forth and present the facts surrounding Fast and Furious, yet his department has refused to cooperate. After reviewing the draft report, I believe that this is an appropriate course of action and urge Chairman Issa to move forward with this resolution holding Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress.”
"Again, Mr. Chairman, I come here today not as a political partisan, but as someone who simply wants the truth to come out. This committee is designed to shine the light on the inner workings of federal decision making. At the last minute, the Department came to offer only a small portion of documents in exchange for the end of this investigation. Mr. Chairman, to accept that kind of deal would preclude the American people from the kind of transparency that we are charged to provide. This situation demands full disclosure and full accountability.
"The contempt report before us today is thorough and accurate. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the committee’s efforts to hold the Justice Department accountable. Thank you, and I yield back.