A Pity Republicans Didn’t Fight the Abrams, Bloch Precedent

I’m actually sympathetic to the notion that if Eric Holder misled Congress about what he knew of the Fast and Furious debacle, he should pay a price for that (though it seems likely he was instead narrowly parsing).

House Republicans are calling for a special counsel to determine whether Attorney General Eric Holder misled Congress during his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Operation Fast and Furious, Fox News has learned.


The question is whether Holder knowingly made false statements of fact under oath during a Judiciary Committee hearing on May 3. At the time, Holder indicated he was not familiar with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives program known as Fast and Furious until about April 2011.

“I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks,” Holder testified.


However, newly discovered memos suggest otherwise. For instance, one memo dated July 2010 shows Michael Walther, director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, told Holder that straw buyers in the Fast and Furious operation “are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to the Mexican drug trafficking cartels.”

Other documents also indicate that Holder began receiving weekly briefings on the program from the National Drug Intelligence Center “beginning, at the latest, on July 5, 2010,” Smith wrote.

A pity for Republicans they applauded when Elliott Abrams paid no price for lying to Congress and have remained silent as the government has made sure that Scott Bloch avoids a mere 30 day sentence for lying to Congress. Because, in effect, the government has decided there will be no consequences for lying to Congress and no one in Congress has objected.

17 replies
  1. rugger9 says:

    It’s about cronyism. Abrams and Bloch were connected to the GOP, Holder is Obama’s AG, and since the House GOP is unethical, rabid, and hypocritical with the unswerving policy to bash Obama at every opportunity even if they have to make stuff up, of course he’s in the crosshairs.

    Watch for this to drag out for a while in the 2012 run-up. That being said, it was indeed an epic boneheaded idea to do Fast and Furious the way it was done, and someone should pay. Everyone will need to be reminded however of the lack of accountability by the GOP on their own, the examples are legion but my favorite is the standing O given to Diaper Dave Vitter after he admitted to consorting with prostitutes [a real crime, BTW]. Of course that hasn’t stopped DD from being a moral scold since then. IOKIYAR.

  2. MadDog says:

    Issa is going to try to keep this fire burning over the course of the 2012 election season, but according to this Politico article:

    “…Issa suggested Wednesday that the process of appointing a special council would take too long.

    “One of the challenges … is if they say they want a special council and then the Justice Department stonewalls the special council the way they have us for almost a year, what ends up happening is they push it until after the election and then perhaps we really never get our justice,” he said…”

    Though I agee with EW about the price Holder ought to pay if he did mislead Congress, I don’t think there’s any doubt whatsoever that Issa finds the politics of his investigation as the most appealing part of it.

    His lament that any justice resulting after the 2012 election is a bummer tells all.

    • bmaz says:

      MadDog, to be just a little fair, a healthy part of the reason Issa is leading this is because Grassley was being obstructed by Leahy in SJC. There IS some ass covering going on both by the Administration and its allies in Congress, and this is a fucked up deal.

  3. Don Bacon says:

    “The misdemeanor contempt statute to which [Bloch] plead, 2 U.S.C. 192, is not a lying to Congress misdemeanor, is not a false statement statute. He was not under oath in the interview with Congress over a computer incident in his office. He was asked over two hours of questions a year and a half after the events occurred without any reference to notes or documents of any kind. The plea was based on not fully cooperating with Congress in that interview on five particular questions and answers deep into the interview.” –wiki

    And with Bloch nobody died. F&F malfeasance resulted in the deaths of 200 Mexicans and one US Border Patrol agent.

  4. dustbunny44 says:

    I confess to not following this closely. But, as a newbie to this story, I’ve got to think it’s ultimately trivial: surely the Mexican cartels are awash in cash and can get weapons through many many sources – these 1500 guns were not that important to them – they could design and build their own from the ground up if they needed to. If anything this story illustrates that there are so many guns available in so many ways that even a government program staffed by career professionals designed to track guns can’t keep track of all of them properly. ATF bureaucratic bungling? Maybe. Deliberate arms transfer? Unlikely – who in the ATF would put their careers on the line for a handful of guns that could be procured in other ways? One more non-issue that Repubs use to hammer a Dem president? Absolutely. Darrell Issa? Biggest criminal in congress – now there’s someone that needs a special prosecutor.

  5. Don Bacon says:

    Actually it’s not trivial when the AG lies to congress, no matter what Mexicans can or cannot do. There were also communications on F&F between the AZ action guy and an Obama WH aide — a man who — surprise! — is currently on a vital mission in Iraq and is unavailable to investigators.

  6. Don Bacon says:

    Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is turning up the heat on Eric Holder, demanding the attorney general “come forward and at least admit” he knew about “Fast and Furious” long before he told Congress he learned about the gun program.

    CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson revealed on Tuesday’s “Laura Ingraham Show” the extent of the rage directed at her from the Obama administration for her reporting on the “Fast and Furious” controversy: “The DOJ woman was just yelling at me. A guy from the White House on Friday night literally screamed at me and cussed at me.” Attkisson also stated that “they think I’m unfair and biased by pursuing it.”

    House Republicans are calling for a special counsel to determine whether Attorney General Eric Holder misled Congress during his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Operation Fast and Furious, Fox News has learned.

    New documents show Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial Fast and Furious operation as far back as July of 2010 — directly contradicting statements to Congress.

    A cache of assault weapons lost in the ATF’s gun-trafficking surveillance operation in Phoenix turned up in El Paso, where it was being stored for shipment to Mexico, according to new internal agency emails and federal court records.

  7. bmaz says:

    @Don Bacon:

    This is a load of shit. If you had bothered to actually read Emptywheel on the subject of Scott Bloch instead of bringing that weak ass Wikipedia crap, you would know that the misdemeanor you describe was th initial arranged plea, in order to avoid felony counts of obstruction of justice, perjury, false statements, willful govt property destruction, in addition to a number of misdemeanor contempt of Congress violations and Federal Record Act crimes. This was all by a man who was in charge of the Office of Special Counsel, an important and senior governmental office in charge of protecting the government workforce and national whistleblowers.

    Try getting a grip next time, okay?

  8. host says:

    As the author of (link @ sig) the Henry Crown and the Albert E. Jenner, Jr., segments of the wikipedia bios of these two “gentlemen,” I am posting a couple of observations about Don Bacon’s “comments” and the response by bmaz, and then Mary’s comments.

    I took pains to thoroughly document every sentence of the two wikipedia segments. I am convinced from the experience of my research that Obama, sponsored by Crown’s son, Lester and by the Pritzkers, is not someone to support or to defend.

    Don Bacon cites enough winger sources and posts arguments making it obvious he is blindly partisan. Bmaz and Mary, is this website about challenging power and exposing its secrets, or is it about, “oh yeah, but what about how much worse republicans have acted and covered up?”

    If you stop seeking politically driven improvements from either of these two forks of the one American political party, the property party, maybe you’ll not be so distracted by reflexive partisan inclination. The most powerful elected and unelected repubs and dems are our enemies. Stop wasting your breath and keystrokes in a competition to emphasize which right wing political fork is worse.

    I suspect Holder’s history included protecting Louis DeNaples in the jury tampering investigation Holder managed; the outcome… protection of DeNaples was the motive of the man Holder disrupted a more important investigation in order to prosecute, is today that DeNaples is the wealthiest and most politically corrupting force in the state of Pennsylvania.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @bmaz: I second the motion. The Bloch plea deal, as we discussed here at length at the time, was a room temperature, curdled milk and water version of real prosecutorial zeal. It was as close to a get-out-of-jail-free card as the administration could come up with without disclosing that it was protecting one of the Bush administration’s worst mid-level enforcers and violators of what were once highly regarded prosecutorial and DoJ standards. It was also thereby institutionalizing the prior Cheney-Addington-Ashcroft-Gonzales-Mukasey-led corruption of the DoJ.

    The court ought to have thrown out the plea deal and sanctioned the prosecutors. That the Obama administration devised it and that a Republican-led Congress finds even 30 days at a happy farm too high a price to pay reveals nothing about Bloch’s crimes. It does reveal a great deal about the extent of corruption in today’s Washington, especially at the DoJ and its political and corporate sponsors.

  10. MadDog says:

    @bmaz: Oh I don’t disagree that there is stonewalling and other shenanigans going on over on the Democrat’s side including with Leahy in the Senate Judiciary committee, the White House and the DOJ.

    My point really was that Issa admits his own political partisanship.

  11. Don Bacon says:

    Suggesting that subaltern Bloch is equivalent to AG Holder with your “a load of shit” is plainly stupid. You seem unable to restrain your language when encountering a foreign thought, in true FDL style.

    #1 We’re talking about the Attorney General of the US, supposedly the chief proponent for justice, and he apparently lied to congress.
    #2 The Repubs are on it, big time, in an election atmosphere.
    #3 The WH is obviously concerned, shipping a key aide involved with F&F out to Iraq, and apparently cussing out a CBS correspondent for even trying to report on F&F.
    #4 200 Mexicans and one US died in this operation, which makes it very important

    So this is not a “load of shit” because none of these factors remotely equates the importance of Bloch and Holder. Is there any way that you can be convinced to discuss the particulars instead of displaying your gutter vocabulary skills?

    Regarding the larger question of your mouthing off, are we supposed to agree with every diary? Are they open to discussion or not?

    Try getting a grip next time, okay?

  12. P J Evans says:

    @Don Bacon:
    Bloch: Busted for covering-up of misdeeds, which were revealed and got him NO punishment.
    Holder: Hasn’t been busted yet for his misdeeds.
    Appears to me that you’re jumping the gun just a bit.
    (Also note that ew isn’t defending Holder.)

  13. matt carmody says:

    The last thing I would ever consider bmaz or marcy to be is a partisan defender of Barry or anyone else who’s been duplicitous and careless with the facts.

    The best reason, for me, to come here is to get my head around things that are the subject of partisan bickering knowing I’ll come away with enough facts to make up my own mind about the matter. I don’t think anyone here expects either one of them to be on a bandwagon for anyone in the political realm.

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