Last week, the Criminal Division Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Arizona, Patrick Cunningham, stunned the House Oversight committee by announcing he would take the Fifth and refuse to testify before them about Operation Fast and Furious.
Now House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, demanding access to Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Morrissey, another key player in the Fast and Furious scandal and cover-up, who reported to Cunningham.
Cunningham’s assertion of Fifth Amendment privilege “suggests that the Department has jeopardized public safety and the public trust by allowing individuals with potential criminal culpability to remain in positions of authority,” Issa says in the letter.
It does seem a little odd that a division chief in the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office can’t answer questions about his job without potentially implicating himself in criminal activity, doesn’t it? Then again, this is Eric Holder’s Justice Department we’re talking about. Isn’t the official Obama Administration line that Fast and Furious was a well-intentioned program that just got a little out of hand, after a few honest mistakes were made? Why would Fifth Amendment protection be needed for well-qualified high officials testifying about small errors in judgment?
Issa gave Holder until 5:00 PM Eastern time today to respond, or else “the Committee will be forced to use compulsory process to ensure his presence.” Once again, the irresistible force of the subpoena will meet the immovable object of the Fifth Amendment.
Issa also reminded Holder that he still hasn’t produced documents subpoenaed in October, “including, but not limited to, e-mails received by Messrs. Cunningham, Morrisey, and Hurley.” That would be Emory Hurley, another Assistant U.S. Attorney who worked under Cunningham. He’s been accused by witnesses during the Fast and Furious hearings of thwarting ATF agents when they tried to arrest Fast and Furious gun runners. House Oversight should probably go ahead and print up his subpoena now, before they change the toner cartridge in their laser printer.