Published October 11, 2011
Congressional investigators probing the failed anti-gunrunning operation Fast and Furious are sending a new subpoena to Attorney General Eric Holder -- seeking communications from about a dozen top Justice Department officials, including Holder; his chief of staff, Gary Grindler; and the head of the department's criminal division, Lanny Breuer, Fox News has learned.
The subpoena, which could be filed as early as Tuesday, will focus on the Justice Department. The first and only subpoena issued so far dealt with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That subpoena was issued back in March.
In the new subpoena, congressional investigators will apparently demand information regarding the investigation into the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Two guns found at Terry's crime scene were linked to the failed operation that allowed more than 2,000 weapons to "walk."
The subpoena is expected to ask for correspondence that Justice Department officials had with the White House about the gun trafficking operation, as well as what information was shared by Justice officials in Mexico.
Asked about the development Tuesday, Holder said his department "will undoubtedly comply with them," noting that Justice officials have already sent "thousands of pages of documents up to the Hill."
Holder addressed the matter at the end of a press conference about an alleged Iran-tied terror plot foiled by U.S. investigators. "What I want the American people to understand is that in complying with those subpoenas and dealing with that inquiry, that will not detract us from the important business that we have here to do at the Justice Department, including matters like the one that we have announced today," Holder said.
The new subpoena follows a week of back and forth between congressional investigators and Justice Department officials of "who knew what, when." Under scrutiny was Holder's testimony from May 3 when he told Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that he "probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks."
Fox News obtained documents addressed to Holder as early as nine months before that, which described the concept of Operation Fast and Furious.
On Friday, Holder sent a letter to congressional investigators stating that he does not read every document addressed to him and that they are reviewed by members of his staff. Holder went on to say that none of the reports mentioned the controversial tactics used in Fast and Furious.
On Monday, Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is investigating the scandal, replied to Holder in a letter saying, "Operation Fast and Furious was the department's most significant gun trafficking case. Whether you realize yet or not, you own Fast and Furious. It is your responsibility.”
Issa told "Fox News Sunday" that he was going to issue the subpoena to find out why the top Justice officials are "denying knowing about something that they were briefed on?"
"We want to know what and when they knew it," he said. "But more importantly, we have to understand -- at what level of the authorization really come? It wasn't an ATF operation. They were part of that. It was a joint operation in which DEA knew more than ATF."
In addition to the congressional investigation being led by Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, is calling for a special counsel to look into the matter.