Fireworks on Capitol Hill over 'Fast and Furious'

General Eric Holder questioned on botched sting operation set up to track illegal guns purchases from U.S. to Mexico


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 7, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST: Hi, everyone, I'm Laura Ingraham in tonight for Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us.

Let's get right to the "Top Story". Fireworks today on Capitol Hill as Attorney General Eric Holder was once again pummeled with questions by members of the House Judiciary Committee over the Justice Department's now infamous ‘Fast and Furious' operation.

What was intended to be a sting operation set up to track illegal gun purchases from the United States to Mexico led to the thousands of firearms being transported into Mexico and then lost, with at least one killing a U.S. agent named Brian Terry.

Now, Holder's story about his own role in the operation has changed over time and today things got even murkier.


ISSA: Have you and your attorneys produced internally the material responsive to the subpoenas?

HOLDER: We believe that we have responded to the subpoena...

ISSA: No, Mr. Attorney General, you're not a good witness. A good witness answers the question asked. So, let's go back again.

HOLDER: But we produced 7,600 --

ISSA: Look, I don't want to hear about the 7,600.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chairman, I would beg to allow.

ISSA: The lady is out of order. Would the lady please sit down, this is my time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Chairman a parliamentary inquiry excuse me, Mr. Chairman, I would beg to allow the Attorney General to be able to finish his answer.

ISSA: Isn't it true, Mr. Attorney General that you have not produced a log of materials withheld even though our investigators have asked for it?

HOLDER: I know that... I'm not sure about that. I know that the...

ISSA: Ok, I'm sure you didn't. So let's move on.

HOLDER: With all due respect to Chairman Issa, he says there is hostility between us, I don't feel that. You know, I understand he's asking questions. I'm trying to respond as best I can. I'm not feeling hostile at all. I'm pretty calm. I'm ok.


INGRAHAM: The question is, is the country ok? Well, when pressed by Congressman Randy Forbes, Holder admitted that the White House has assisted in the crafting of the Department of Justice's response to Congress on ‘Fast and Furious'. So, they are talking to one another about how to best respond.

Joining us now from Washington is Katie Pavlich, she's the author of the book, "Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and the Shame of Cover-up"; and John Flannery, a former special counsel for the House Judiciary Committee.

Ok, both of you, this was pretty hot on Capitol Hill. And John, you were up there on the Hill not so long ago and this was the eighth appearance by Eric Holder on the ‘Fast and Furious' scandal your reaction to the clip you just heard and then the revelation that the White House is working with the Justice Department to craft the response in Congress?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, you know, a poor workman blames his tools. And I'm afraid that the Chairman didn't write a very good subpoena to begin with after he received 7,600 documents.

So it's very hard for him to frame what he didn't get when he is asking for two years of memos to the Attorney General, for instance.

So I thought he lost control, I thought he's a little bit -- I hate to say it this way -- but it's sort of like a hack politician questioning an experienced trial attorney and the two of them were in different spears and one other member of Congress had to try to say to the Chairman look, this is not the way do you business.

As for the White House crafting a message it was a national question about, you know, guns being lost-uncontrolled--going to drug dealers.

INGRAHAM: Right but John the problem -- the problem with the White House helping them is that Holder could not answer simple questions about what the White House knew and whether anyone at Justice have had conversations about the actual --actual operation of ‘Fast and Furious'.

So we don't know whether they have talked but the White House is helping craft a message? Why would they help craft a message then?

FLANNERY: Here is a problem we both have. They don't ask the questions, they make statements. So for instance, if you ask a question, "Have you given us information on A, B, and C?" as opposed to, "Have you answered my subpoenas in December for 22 areas, which were poorly written, I'm not even sure a lawyer wrote them."

Then you would know something.

The -- the problem with this entire investigation has been amateurism. We have people fostering --


INGRAHAM: At the Justice Department. Well, we have a dead agent.

FLANNERY: -- well I know, no -- well, a dead agent doesn't mean they are any good at it.

INGRAHAM: Look we have rifles that were bought in the United States under the watch of the Justice Department that ended up killing Brian Terry found at the scene.

FLANNERY: Absolutely. So who did it? Who made the wrong decision?


INGRAHAM: They don't know because they are not giving us the information. Go ahead, Katie--

FLANNERY: Because we're not asking the questions correctly.

KATIE PAVLICH, NEWS EDITOR, TOWNHALL.COM: I'm going to jump in here.

INGRAHAM: Go ahead Katie. Go ahead.

PAVLICH: My -- my counterpart says that the Oversight Committee and Chairman Issa in particular are not asking the right questions. Well, I don't know what is hard about answering the question of, "What did you know, and when did you know it? Who in your Justice Department on a senior level knew what they knew about ‘Fast and Furious' and when?"

And the hearing today on Capitol Hill, which I attended, came after this week Congressman Issa sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder saying, look, I have seen six wiretap applications, each with an attachment from your assistant Attorney General Lanny Brewer with approval of those.

And anyone who knows about the wiretap process knows that when you submit an application for a wiretap you submit details, excruciating details about the case. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Brewer admitted that he knew about gun walking tactics after he submitted a false letter to Congress about denying the tactics in the first place and saying this is a localized program.

Today Holder did nothing but obfuscate and try and push this back to the level and say "I don't know anything. I don't read my memos and my senior officials don't read theirs either."

INGRAHAM: Well there was internal e-mail that they discussed John at one point. This is getting into the actual evidence or documents in the case.


FLANNERY: That would be encouraging.

INGRAHAM: And in one of the internal e-mails it was by this guy James Trusty and they were inside the Justice Department they referred to "F and F" in the -- in the e-mail.


INGRAHAM: This was back in -- in the fall of 2010. And they were saying, "Well, it's not -- it's not a big surprise that a bunch of U.S. guns were being used in Mexico so I'm not sure how much grief we're going to get for gun walking."

Eric Holder when asked about this said that these that "F and F" did not refer to ‘Fast and Furious'. Correct me if I'm wrong, Katie, because you were there and I wasn't but does that not stretch the bounds of logical thinking? That he doesn't mean --


FLANNERY: No who -- who --

PAVLICH: Right --


FLANNERY: I agree with you about that. Who is the memo between --

PAVLICH: Right, this question is for me. No, no, this question was for me, Laura directed that question to me.


INGRAHAM: Two of the -- two of the officials at the Justice Department. Go ahead.


FLANNERY: Ok well, see but it's not the Attorney General is part of the problem here which is the objective of the hearing.

INGRAHAM: Go ahead. Right, Katie, go ahead.

PAVLICH: No, this was an e-mail that was from the deputy assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein discussing ‘Fast and Furious'. Not only did it say "F and F", Laura, it said the words "Fast and Furious".


PAVLICH: Whether they should rope Assistant Attorney General Lanny Brewer into the press side of things. Mind you that was in October of 2010. There were six wiretaps in May, June, July, August and September of 2010 with Lanny Brewer's approval on them.

So for him to say that -- and for Attorney General Eric Holder to say that his Assistant Attorney General didn't know about gun walking tactics up to that point is a lie.

FLANNERY: Well, you know I don't know that it's a lie. The question should be put to Mr. Brewer. I mean, you and I have experience in this. We asked the principal, "You, Mr. Brewer -- did you receive this e-mail? What did you -- what we're you saying? What we're you doing?"

INGRAHAM: John, this pains me -- you're like a -- you're a smart guy. What I know about you.

FLANNERY: And you're a smart lady.

INGRAHAM: But -- but knowing what I know about you.


INGRAHAM: If you were running the Justice Department -- if you were Attorney General and this happened under your watch -- it started in the fall of 2009 but under your watch, this happened, I would be livid. I would find out who authorized this.


FLANNERY: I agree with that.

INGRAHAM: If it was Brewer or was this someone else. So whether -- whether Holder knew anything -- knew everything right away or not. Ok let's set that aside. By now he should know something, right John?

FLANNERY: I agree with that -- I agree with that. If I was the Attorney General, I would have -- I would have now -- whether I saw them or not, I would have reviewed all the applications and all the reports and I would have had everybody on the carpet in my office.

And I agree with you that appearing on the Hill without doing that is a way to avoid knowing something --


INGRAHAM: But why would he appear on the Hill without doing that?

FLANNERY: Well, to avoid knowing. To avoid knowing and that's -- that's no -- that's not acceptable, right?

INGRAHAM: Well, we don't play dumb on the O'REILLY FACTOR. John it's great to see you. Katy, thanks for being there today.

FLANNERY: It's good to see you.

PAVLICH: Thank you.

INGRAHAM: And giving us your insight. We really appreciate it.

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