Will the MSM finally start paying attention to this story now?
In a blockbuster development in the Operation Fast & Furious gun-running scandal, Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson secretly testified before House and Senate investigators on July 4 with his own personal lawyer present, former United States Attorney Richard Cullen, without the knowledge of the ATF or the Department of Justice.
This morning, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley released a copy of a letter they sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on July 5 about Melson’s testimony. Melson’s revelations raise even more serious issues not only about the operation itself, but about apparent attempts by the Justice Department to mislead Congress on the details of the operation.
The transcript of this interview has not been released of course but the letter from Issa and Grassley is pretty startling itself.
…His interview had originally been scheduled through the Justice Department to occur on July 13 in the presence of DOJ and ATF counsel. As you know, however, under our agreement Department witnesses who choose to attend a voluntary interview with their own lawyer are free to exercise that right rather than participate with counsel representing the Department’s interests.
After being made aware of that provision of our agreement, Acting Director Melson chose to exercise that right and appeared with his own lawyer. We are disappointed that no one had previously informed him of that provision of the agreement. Instead, Justice Department officials sought to limit and control his communications with Congress.
No evidence of cover up….yet.
But there are two twists to this story that should ring some alarm bells.
The first one, DOJ officials failed to tell Melson he could testify with his own lawyer instead of department lawyers. That is curious.
The second twist?
He was about to be ousted from his position when he tried to tell the DOJ that the ATF operation was in fact FUBAR’d
Melson provided detailed information and documents to the Office of the Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department. But that information was not given to Congress by then-Acting Deputy Attorney General James Cole. In fact, “Melson was not allowed to communicate to Congress” and “Justice Department officials directed [ATF’s senior leadership] not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress.” According to the letter Issa and Grassley sent to Holder, it was “two days after [Melson] told [Cole] about serious issues involving lack of information sharing” that the Wall Street Journal suddenly reported that Melson was about to be ousted by the Obama administration.
Bells should be ringing right about now.
Why would some information sharing issues cause this much consternation inside Obama’s DOJ? Because those ‘shot-callers’ inside the gun trafficking groups that the ATF sought to identify with this operation may have ALREADY been known by other Federal agencies. So well known in fact, they may have been paid informants by the other agencies.
That’s some serious problems.
And someone, or some people, pretty high up in the DOJ appear to have wanted all this to go away instead of investigating.
We don’t know how deep this rabbit hole is yet but it’s getting more interesting by the day.