Here, you are urged and encouraged to run your mouths about something important.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fast and Furious smoking gun may be one Email

It looks like an email from then Acting Director at the ATF - Kenneth Melson - to high ranking Department of Justice officials in March of 2011 may just blow the lid off the Fast and Furious investigation once and for all. That also may be why Obama went as far as asserting Executive Privilege to prevent it from being released.

Via Matthew Boyle at the Daily Caller:
Ken Melson, now the former acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, purportedly sent that email to several DOJ leaders in March 2011. According to Grassley, Melson wrote that he had reviewed the wiretap applications — the same documents Cummings and Holder claim do not show senior DOJ officials knew of or approved gunwalking tactics in Fast and Furious.

“ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson described reading those same wiretap affidavits in March of last year,” Grassley told Holder during the Senate hearing. “He said he was alarmed that the information in the affidavits contradicted the public denial to Congress.”

It appears Republican congressional investigators first learned of the Melson email’s existence on July 4, 2011, when Melson chose to give a lengthy deposition on Fast and Furious without DOJ and ATF lawyers present. Grassley told Holder during the Senate hearing that congressional investigators first requested that the DOJ provide Congress with that email during July 2011, shortly after Melson made his then-secret trip across town to Capitol Hill.
Possible scenario: The February 4, 2011 letter from the Justice Department to Grassley said any claims that the ATF was engaged in gun-walking were "false". In March of 2011, Melson sees the now infamous wiretap applications. Upon doing so, it becomes apparent to him that DOJ Officials (Lanny Breuer / Jason Weinstein we now know at minimum) were well aware of gun-walking; Melson then sends an email expressing this concern - as well as concern over the fallacious letter sent to Grassley - to high ranking DOJ officials.

As the days and weeks go by, Melson sees that the Justice Department is not going to correct the record relative to the lie in the February 4th letter. He gets nervous and decides to meet with Oversight Committee investigators on July 4th of last year instead of on the date of his scheduled testimony on July 13th. He also brings his own counsel instead of DOJ or ATF counsel during that meeting.

Here is a report from July 6th of last year, via Hot Air: says something that Melson chose to meet secretly with Issa and Grassley and to be represented by his own personal counsel rather than DOJ and ATF counsel, who, obviously, would have had departmental interests (and the protection of higher officials, perhaps?) more in mind than what was best for Melson.
On July 5, 2011 Charles Grassley sent a letter to Eric Holder about the testimony given by Melson one day earlier. In light of this new focus on Melson's e-mail to DOJ officials, this excerpt seems to take on added significance:
"By his (Melson's) account, he was sick to his stomach when he obtained those documents and learned the full story. Mr. Melson said that he told the office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) at the end of March that the Department needed to reexamine how it was responding to requests for information from Congress.
The Deputy Attorney General is Holder's right hand man. In this case, that's James Cole. Did Melson notify Cole in March of last year that DOJ needed to correct the February 4th letter? If so, DOJ ignored it month after month until it retracted the letter in December of 2011. That also calls into question every bit of testimony given to the House Oversight Committee as well as House and Senate Judiciary Committees by all DOJ and DHS officials between February 4, 2011.

Let's revisit this clip from a May 3, 2011 House Judiciary Committee hearing, not for what it's become most known for - Holder saying that the first he had heard about Fast and Furious was a "few weeks" earlier - but for his response to a question from Issa about whether James Cole authorized the program. Holder says he doesn't think Cole authorized the program because it started before Cole had assumed the position of DAG. This is correct as Cole was sworn in on December 29, 2010, fifteen days after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered. When asked if Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer authorized the program, Holder was evasive.

Pay attention starting at the 1:00 mark:

What makes this testimony interesting is that if Melson's letter is released (currently being withheld under Executive Privilege asserted by Obama last week), it could show that Cole knew the February 4th letter was false at the time Holder was painting Cole as someone having virtually nothing to do with the operation.

Earlier today, Mike Vanderboegh, at the reliable Sipsey Street Irregulars website, claims to have heard from sources who claim that:
Boehner is set to deal away the contempt vote in the full House for less than the minimum discovery that Darrell Issa has set.
Regular visitors to this blog know I'm not a Boehner fan but in light of these revelations that one lone email from Kenneth Melson could blow a hole in the Fast and Furious stonewall, the Committee might not need everything it's subpoenaed.

The best part, as Boyle points out at DC? Holder told Grassley at the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 12 (earlier this month) that the Melson email did not qualify for Executive Privilege.

If you're in the mood (and have time) for some very real comparisons from 40 years ago...

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