House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa has demanded an explanation from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich for a false statement he made to Congress in a February 4, 2011 letter. Weich is a deputy to Attorney General Eric Holder, who has become embroiled in the scandal stemming from the failed “Operation Fast and Furious” gun-walking program.
In his February 4 letter to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, Weich wrote that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives “makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who heads the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, conceded in Senate testimony Tuesday that the statement in that letter was false, and that he knew it was false long before the letter was written.
Breuer has not said whether he had a hand in drafting that letter, but he waited more than nine months to correct the record.
Weich and Holder have refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for information about who prepared the letter and who reviewed it before it went out. Even so, Issa has renewed his demand for information that would prove who inserted the false information.
“Mr. Weich, as you are well aware, it is a crime to knowingly make false statements to Congress,” Issa wrote in a letter released Wednesday. “As the Department’s principal liaison to Congress, we rely on you to be straight with the facts. You have not been, and so your credibility on this issue has been seriously eroded.”
“Whether it is the case that you were fed a lie and faithfully repeated it in a letter to Congress, or whether it is the case that you took the initiative to lie to Congress yourself, you are responsible for the contents of letters that bear your signature,” Issa continued. “The buck stops with you.”
Issa’s letter demanded Weich “provide a complete list of individuals who helped” him draft the February 4 letter, along with “all communications, including emails, referring or relating to the development of DOJ’s response to Senator Grassley’s January 27, 2011, request for information.”