Bait-and-switch? Or breath-taking chutzpah? Either way, Eric Holder is in big trouble.
The embattled attorney general destroyed what little is left of his credibility yesterday afternoon when he failed to turn over 1,300 subpoenaed and unredacted documents in the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal to House investigators led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
How did the Justice Department come to OK an operation that handed massive firepower to Mexico’s drug lords, with no hope of tracing the guns and without a word to the Mexican government? Still no good answers, some 18 months after one of those guns was found at the site of the murder of a US Border Patrol agent, while countless others have been used to kill innocent Mexicans.
Nor has Justice handed over more than a token number of the duly subpoenaed documents that might help explain the disaster.
Instead, in a 20-minute meeting that Holder himself had requested to stave off today’s planned contempt citation vote in Issa’s committee, he merely offered to “brief” Issa on their contents.
Holder’s insulting, 11th-hour offer came after he’d already missed a morning deadline to turn over the documents — a small percentage of the total number that Congress has demanded as it tries to get to the bottom of the scandal.
Issa surely feels like Charlie Brown charging the football, with Holder as Lucy. For over a year, he’s been trying to pin down the slippery AG, issuing one “last chance” after another, dragging Holder in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (on top of Senate appearances) and firing off angry letter after angry letter.
Each time, Holder has scampered off, meeting Issa’s legitimate demands with contempt — for the congressman, the Congress itself and the rule of law.
He tried it again yesterday after his offer was rebuffed, calling Issa’s demands “political gamesmanship” and cracking, “The ball’s in their court.”
Um . . . no, Mr. Attorney General. The ball’s in your court — and has been ever since Justice took the extraordinary step of formally “withdrawing” a Feb. 4, 2011 letter from assistant AG Ron Weich — who announced last week that he’s leaving Justice to become dean of the University of Baltimore law school.