Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice dumped documents related to Operation Fast and Furious on congressional officials late Friday night. Central to this document dump is a series of emails showing Holder was informed of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder on the day it happened – December 15, 2010.
An email from one official, whose name has been redacted from the document, to now-former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke reads: “On December 14, 2010, a BORTAC agent working in the Nogales, AZ AOR was shot. The agent was conducting Border Patrol operations 18 miles north of the international boundary when he encountered [redacted word] unidentified subjects. Shots were exchanged resulting in the agent being shot. At this time, the agent is being transported to an area where he can be air lifted to an emergency medical center.”
That email was sent at 2:31 a.m. on the day Terry was shot. One hour later, a follow-up email read: “Our agent has passed away.”
Burke forwarded those two emails to Holder’s then-deputy chief of staff Monty Wilkinson later that morning, adding that the incident was “not good” because it happened “18 miles w/in” the border.
Wilkinson responded to Burke shortly thereafter and said the incident was “tragic.” “I’ve alerted the AG [Holder], the Acting DAG, Lisa, etc.”
Then, later that day, Burke followed up with Wilkinson after Burke discovered from officials whose names are redacted that the guns used to kill Terry were from Fast and Furious. “The guns found in the desert near the murder BP officer connect back to the investigation we were going to talk about – they were AK-47s purchased at a Phoenix gun store,” Burke wrote to Wilkinson.
“I’ll call tomorrow,” Wilkinson responded.
Holder has faced difficult questions surrounding the question of when he was first informed of the gunwalking program. He testified in Congress that he had only learned of Fast and Furious a “few weeks” before a May 3, 2011, House Judiciary Committee appearance.
Holder has since walked back that “few weeks” comment, amending it to more of a “couple months.”
“I did say a ‘few weeks,’” Holder said during a November 8 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, responding to a question from its chairman Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. “I probably could’ve said ‘a couple of months.’ I didn’t think the term I said, ‘few weeks,’ was inaccurate based on what happened.”
There have also been a series of documents containing the intimate details of Fast and Furious that were sent to Holder throughout 2010 from several of his senior aides. Holder claims he did not read his memos.
Holder will be appearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform next Thursday, Feb. 2. Though Holder has already testified before Congress three times about matters relating to Fast and Furious — twice before the House Judiciary Committee and once before the Senate Judiciary Committee — this is the first time the House oversight committee will have an opportunity to question Holder himself.
“The Judiciary Committee has multiple issues with the Attorney General,” House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller last week. “We have one issue: the issue of breaking the law in order to enforce the law.”
“The oversight committee is investigating the Department of Justice, which is very different than his appearances before the Judiciary Committees in which they’re asking how things are going at Justice. What we’ve discovered in our investigations is a pattern of cover-up [and] delay. Ultimately Congress was given false information and now we’ve had people both resign and take the Fifth as we try to get to the basic elements of why and how was Congress lied to.”
A total of 103 members of the House have called for Holder’s resignation or firing, expressed “no confidence” in Holder via a formal House Resolution, or both. Two sitting governors, two U.S. senators and all the major Republican presidential candidates join those 103 congressmen in not trusting Holder. Many of those who have called for Holder’s resignation have pointed out that Holder claiming that he didn’t read his memos is a sign that he’s admitting incompetence to avoid charges of corruption.
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This article was updated after publication. A previous version reported Holder was informed that the weapons used to kill Terry were linked to Operation Fast & Furious. But a letter to Congress provided by the DOJ suggests only that Monty Wilkinson was made aware. That letter states Wilkinson does not recall telling Holder. Reached Sunday, a spokesperson for Holder relied only on that letter, and declined to confirm that Holder himself was not informed.