WASHINGTON (AP) — Newly released emails show Attorney General Eric Holder said that Justice Department prosecutors who were critical of the department’s handling of the fallout of the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal could “kiss my ass.”
Operation Fast and Furious was a botched effort by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to track firearms across the Southwest border. Revelations about it created a political firestorm, leading to congressional investigations and turnover within the ATF and Justice Department.
The Justice Department selectively provided a batch of emails this week to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The Associated Press obtained the emails on Friday.
House Republicans, who have subpoenaed for thousands of emails and went to federal court for access to the documents, have long promoted the idea that Holder and other top-level Justice Department officials knew that federal agents had engaged in a risky tactic known as “gun-walking.”
The Justice Department’s inspector general found no evidence that Holder was aware of the tactic, in which ATF agents tried to track the flow of illegal guns from the United States into Mexico but instead lost track of many of the weapons.
In one email from March 2011, after being sent a news story about the Fast and Furious investigation, Holder told staff, “I hope there is another side to the story.” Later, after the ATF deputy director assured Holder aides that “we did not allow guns to walk,” Holder responded to staff with, “Do they really, really know?”
That August, Holder was told by staff that about 25 U.S. attorneys were upset that the resignation of Dennis Burke, then the U.S. attorney in Arizona, was announced simultaneously with the reassignment of ATF Acting Director Ken Melson. Holder wondered “why wouldn’t we get the benefit of the doubt. Assume we’re doing things for the right reasons and in the right way.”
Holder later added, “Some people can kiss my ass.”