OTR Interviews

Grassley stops short of joining the call for Holder's 'Fast and Furious' resignation ... for now

Senator on his plea to attorney general to bring end to contempt proceedings on botched gun-running sting, need for special prosecutor on intel leaks

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 12, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, a United States senator telling Attorney General Eric Holder he should go, that he should resign. Those blistering comments came during another heated hearing about operation Fast & Furious.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, R-TEXAS: You violated the public trust, in my view, and by failing and refusing to perform the duties of your office. So, Mr. Attorney General, it is more with sorrow and regret than anger that I would say that you leave me no alternative but to join those who call upon you to resign your office. It is my sincere hope that president Obama will replace you with someone who is up to that challenge.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: There is so much factually wrong with the premise that you started your statement with, you know, I just -- it's almost breathtaking in its inaccuracy, but I will leave it at that. This is the ninth time that I have answered questions before a congressional committee about Fast and Furious. If you want to talk about Fast and Furious, I am the attorney general that put an end to the misguided tactics that were used in Fast and Furious. So I don't have any intention of resigning. I heard the White House press officer say yesterday that the president has absolute confidence in me. I don't have any reason to believe that that in fact, is not the case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Does Senator Chuck Grassley agree with Senator John Cornyn? We asked him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R-IOWA: I'm always glad to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, you are the ranking member of the judiciary hearing in the United States Senate, right?

GRASSLEY: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Today, you had Attorney General Eric Holder testify.

GRASSLEY: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator Cornyn says he should resign, the attorney general. Do you agree with Senator Cornyn.

GRASSLEY: If you asked me a few hours ago I probably would have said yes. I am open to his so-called negotiation. But I don't like the fact that he is talking about a constitutional crisis, because he has created this constitutional crisis. And I think it's a situation of where he is waking up to the fact that there are people serious about getting this information one way or the other. And he should be held in contempt if he doesn't give us this information because he's taking contemptible action against the Congress.

VAN SUSTEREN: The backup is that the House subpoena documents last October in the investigation to what happened to the border agent who was murdered. And now we are in June. The House says they have not received the documents. The Justice Department says that Congressman Issa is distorting the facts and they have provided information other than that information in an ongoing investigation that they don't want to jeopardize. So do you have any thought in terms of Congressman Issa and the allegation that he is distorting things?

GRASSLEY: Let me quantify for you why Issa's right and Holder is wrong, and that is, by one count, there is 80,000 documents, pages of documents that we have been titled to. We have only gotten 6,000 under that count. There is another count of 147,000 pages that we think the Justice Department knows exists. We've only gotten 7,000 there. So by either count you can quantify that they near contempt of Congress by either 74,000 pans or 140,000 pages. And it seems to me that -- that -- that that is such a small amount that they have given, they are without a doubt, they are misleading Congress and accusing Congressman Issa of something that she he shouldn't be accused of, because let me say in Congressman Issa's favor, since I started this investigation in January, 2011, and I wasn't getting anywhere with my own inquiries of oversight of the justice department, I went to Congressman Issa and I said, you know, you can open an investigation into this because have you subpoena power?

And everything that is out there Congressman Issa deserves credit for, because without the subpoena power, I doubt we would any of this information. There is so much misleading information that comes. You know, the Justice Department says, well, you know, they don't even know about gun walking. The bottom line of it is we have plenty of email that showed a long time, before they said anything about it, that they knew it existed and they encouraged it.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, in light of that, in light of the fact that you say they are misleading the United States Senate, misleading the House of Representatives, and by them I mean the Department of Justice and the attorney general as the head. In light of the fact the subpoena's sitting out there since October and not fulfilled, why in the world, what in last few hours could change your mind that makes you think that's not egregious enough to call for his resignation like Senator Cornyn?

GRASSLEY: Why they are willing to negotiate now is the basis of they are at the foot of the gallows, and they know that they might -- the trap might be sprung, and that would be the House approving of it.

If you are asking me why I would not call for resignation right now, I think I ought to keep as much credibility as I can to see what can be negotiated. But I have a very short leash on that. I am not willing to give very much. They have got to show within a week or two that they are willing to cough up the documents or, I say, go to contempt, and at that point, I would be willing to say resign, because you haven't negotiated in good faith.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of negotiation, I mean, I think of negotiation as give and take, I give you 10,000 pages, I will keep 10,000 pages. But you want to investigate and I assume you want all the pages, so what possibly could the justice department and the attorney general do but deliver all the pages that you have subpoenaed? I mean, what can, quote, be negotiated?

GRASSLEY: Well, there are certain accusations against -- that are emails and wire taps that are sealed by the court. They can ask the court to unseal those.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you want them to?

GRASSLEY: Oh, I asked that of the attorney general weeks ago. We didn't get an answer. They haven't done anything.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that a point of no return for you? If the attorney general doesn't ask to have the documents unsealed or available for a private viewing by the Senate, is that, you know, is the deal off?

GRASSLEY: Well, you probably know we have gotten clandestinely, and we don't know exactly where, but these documents came to Congressman Issa. We have had a chance to view them. That shows concretely how we have been misled by this justice department.

VAN SUSTEREN: So why are you so willing to sort of, like, I mean -- this family of Agent Terry, they have been waiting a year-and-a-half for information about their relative who was murdered. They have been waiting. We got information on what happened in Peru with the Secret Service within a matter of weeks. And so, what does it mean? Either you are entitled to these documents or are you are not. If you are entitled, you should have them. If not, you shouldn't have them.

GRASSLEY: OK, but the point is, when your question goes back to resignation, I upon not sure I want to negotiate with a new attorney general, after we have been after this. I want to see what we can get down to the bottom right now. But the point is that they have been stonewalling for a year and-a-half. And it's time, and I am glad that Congressman Issa and presumably Speaker Boehner are moving ahead with the contempt citation.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you are a betting man, will the justice department comply or not by the 20th? What's your guess? I realize it's a guess.

GRASSLEY: My guess is they are going to stall all they can until after the election because I think there are things in this document that is going to make this administration look very bad at a time of reelections, and they want to stall until after the election.

VAN SUSTEREN: Except Congressman Issa is only giving them until June 20 for the committee to vote on a contempt citation.

GRASSLEY: Well, and that may bring them to reality to it. I hope to does. We want the information. The only thing I want out of this is somebody's scalp that approved this. They should have to get out of government and be held responsible because they led -- their decisions led to the death of Terry. And then, secondly, we want to make sure that a stupid program like Fast and Furious never happens again.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

GRASSLEY: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)