As pressure continues to mount on Attorney General Eric Holder for his role in a plot to arm Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel to support the 90-percent lie, Republican presidential contenders are finally being asked about their position on the scandal.
Michele Bachmann told reporters after a town hall meeting Monday morning that if the facts are as they seem, the attorney general must step down:
“This is an extremely serious set of facts that we’re looking at,” Bachmann said when The Daily Caller asked if Holder should resign.
“There needs to be a full investigation. And surely he should resign … if the facts prove to be what they appear to be.”
Bachmann became the first Republican presidential hopeful to call for Holder to potentially step down. GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, also campaigning Monday, was asked whether he would call upon Holder to resign over the gun-walking scandal. He dodged the “yes-or-no” question for a painful 35 seconds:
“Governor, should Eric Holder resign over ‘Fast and Furious’? That’s a yes-or-no question, governor.”
After Romney initially ignored the question, The Daily Caller asked it a second time.
Romney wheeled around, took a break from shaking hands, signing autographs and answering voters’ questions, and took 35 seconds to explain why he wouldn’t answer the yes-or-no question.
“I do press [availabilities] and then I answer questions, that are important questions, in the length that I want to do,” Romney said. “But what I don’t do is in a group like this is stop and rattle off questions to people just as we walk along.”
“So that way,” he continued, “you don’t get the chance to hear the full answer that I’d like to give. So those are important questions. I’ll be happy to address them in a press avail or at the town meeting. But in these events, at events like this I don’t take press questions, because it doesn’t give you or me the chance to have a full discussion of the topic, when particularly it’s an important one like that.”
Romney and Bachmann, along with the other GOP hopefuls, will participate in the 90-minute Washington Post/Bloomberg debate tonight in New Hampshire. The furor over Operation and Fast and Furious and other alleged gunwalking operations has escalated significantly since the last Republican debate, and tonight may offer the first chance to see the candidates forced to answer questions about the plot, the administration’s attempts to stonewall the investigation, and whether or not Attorney General Holder should resign.
Herman Cain, the long-shot turned first-tier candidate, seems to have the most to gain or lose with his opinion on the scandal. Cain’s position on gun rights has been described as “soft” and a weak point in the conservative businessman’s base appeal. Texas Governor Rick Perry, another top tier candidate, would be expected to take a strong stance, and should be good for a soundbite should the question come about during the debate.
Life goes on outside of the 2012 race, and Holder is being excoriated there as well. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa used his strongest language yet yesterday, stopping just short of calling him a criminal:
These firearms were not interdicted. They were not stopped. Your agents allowed these firearms purchases to continue, sometimes even monitoring them in person, and within days some of these weapons were being recovered in Mexico. Despite widespread knowledge within its senior ranks that this practice was occurring, when asked on numerous occasions about the veracity of this letter, the Department has shockingly continued to stand by its false statement of February 4, 2011.
Mr. Attorney General, you have made numerous statements about Fast and Furious that have eventually been proven to be untrue. Your lack of trustworthiness while speaking about Fast and Furious has called into question your overall credibility as Attorney General. The time for deflecting blame and obstructing our investigation is over. The time has come for you to come clean to the American public about what you knew about Fast and Furious, when you knew it, and who is going to be held accountable for failing to shut down a program that has already had deadly consequences, and will likely cause more casualties for years to come.
Issa’s letter mirrors the thoughts of other public officials and an increasing number of media figures. An unsigned op-ed in the San Francisco Examiner cites the constantly changing series of excuses from the Department of Justice, and calls for Holder to fire his aides or be fired himself.
Writing in the Washington Post, Marc A. Thiessen described Holder as “Obama’s albatross,” and ripped his entire tenure as U.S. attorney general as a series of catastrophic failures.
David Zurawik noted in the Baltimore Sun that the administration’s handing of the gunwalking scandal shows contempt for “real reporters” that actually ask the hard questions. This was a criticism of both the White House and the majority of mainstream media outlets that have done everything in their power to minimize or ignore the story — when they weren’t posting political hatchet jobs on behalf of the administration, as the New York Times and Washington Post have both done.
Issa continues to ramp up the pressure on Holder and the Department of Justice, and may issue subpoenas as early as today. Subpoenas would call on Holder to turn over documents he’s so far withheld, to testify under oath again in front of Congress, and would also request communications about the plot from over a dozen senior DOJ employees that may have been involved.