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GOP Smells Blood, Bores In on Eric Holder

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. John Cornyn (above) called on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign at the Senate Judiciary hearing today.

The tactic, which was intended to allow agents to track criminal networks by finding the guns at crime scenes, has been roundly condemned after two guns that were part of the operation were found at Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder scene.

After initially denying the tactic was ever used, the Justice Department conceded it was but insisted senior officials were not aware of its use.

Issa has pointed to the wiretap applications as evidence that the tactics were approved by senior Justice officials in Washington, D.C., saying the applications included detailed descriptions of the tactics.

Grassley said Kenneth Melson, the former ATF head who was reassigned as the Fast and Furious scandal heated up, told House Republicans he was “alarmed” when he first read the applications in March 2011 and immediately told top Justice officials they should back off the public denials the department had issued.

But it wasn’t until December 2011 when the Justice Department did concede the tactics were used, rescinding a letter sent to Grassley and providing documents that showed how the letter was crafted.

Issa is seeking internal Justice documents from after the letter was sent to Grassley denying the tactic was used.

Holder said today that although there is a “tradition” that Justice does not release internal, deliberative documents, he is willing to consider doing so if he is able to sit down with Republicans to discuss a deal.

Issa’s spokesman, though, wasn’t interested.

“Discussions about Fast and Furious have been ongoing for nearly a year and a half. The Justice Department, however, did not express interest in reaching a workable solution until after the committee announced it had obtained detailed wiretap applications from a source and scheduled a vote on contempt. The Justice Department needs to demonstrate its interest in doing more than reciting old talking points,” said Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Issa.

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