Fast and Furious: Gary Grindler's One Degree of Separation From Holder
After today’s Inspector General Report on Fast and Furious, Democrats are spinning themselves silly that “neither the Attorney General nor senior DOJ officials authorized or approved of gun-walking in Fast and Furious.” But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the most senior DOJ official possible, other than the Attorney General himself, fully complicit in Fast and Furious and the murder of Brian Terry is none other than Attorney General Eric Holder’s Chief of Staff Gary Grindler.
I have repeatedly appeared on Fox News and said Grindler is the person most likely responsible for allowing this mess to continue, and the ensuing cover up. The report today confirms he is at the center of the mess, and only one degree removed from Eric Holder.
An aside, Grindler is also known in the Department as a maladministrator who directed or tolerated political appointees to engage in vindictive retaliation against employees who reported internal abuse and misconduct. It is believed that several EEO complaints are pending against Grindler’s office from the time he served as Acting Deputy Attorney General. Hopefully that’s next on the Inspector General’s agenda.
The Inspector General Report on Fast and Furious is highly critical of Grindler for relying on the FBI to investigate the Terry killing in association with the Fast and Furious gunwalking scheme, and that Grindler knew enough about the dangers of the Fast and Furious operation that he should have raised concerns with his immediate supervisor, in his case, Attorney General Eric Holder.
If the Report is correct, it is inconceivable that Grindler did not brief Holder. The Deputy Attorney General’s Office was involved Fast and Furious from its inception. On October 26, 2009, a teleconference was held at the Department to discuss strategy on how to combat the Mexican drug cartels. Participating in the teleconference was then Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, ATF Director Kenneth Melson, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, FBI Director Robert Mueller and the top DOJ prosecutors from the Southwest. It was during this teleconference that the policy to go after arms trafficking networks was formulated – the foundation of Fast and Furious. While the Fast and Furious program itself was not discussed, the policy on which the program rested was. Very shortly thereafter, in November 2009, Fast and Furious went into operation in Phoenix.
On December 23, 2009, After David Ogden resigned because of unspecified conflict with Holder, Gary Grindler was named Acting Deputy Attorney General. In January 2010, less than a month later, Fast and Furious was approved via a briefing paper as a prosecutor-led Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force case, meaning that ATF would join with the FBI, the DEA, the IRS and ICE, led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.
With such an array of DoJ agencies involved, it is highly unlikely that Acting Deputy Attorney General Grindler was not intimately involved with approving, reviewing and monitoring the details of the case. And, in fact, on March 12, 2010, Grindler visited Arizona and was briefed on Fast and Furious; his handwriting appears all over power point presentation photos of the guns. At the briefing, Grindler is provided information on the program down to minutiae, including such details as the number of times a particular straw purchaser went in to a “cooperating” gun store and purchased guns.
The Deputy Attorney General generally keeps close oversight over the ATF, and Gary Grindler followed the ATF Fast and Furious Program closely. On December 14, 2010, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot with rifles traced directly to the Fast and Furious program. In an email exchange that night, Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona told Holder’s Deputy Chief of Staff that he wanted to discuss a large firearms trafficking case. The next morning in a follow up email he informed the Attorney General’s Office that Brian Terry had been murdered. Holder’s Deputy Chief of Staff responded that he alerted Holder, Grindler and Lisa Monaco, the Acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General.
On January 3, 2011, Eric Holder made Gary Grindler his Chief of Staff. About three weeks later, on January 25, 2011, the details of Fast and Furious went public. Two days later Senator Grassley sent a letter to the Attorney General’s Office asking for information on Fast and Furious. In February, Holder ordered the DOJ Inspector General to investigate Fast and Furious. And on March 23rd, President Obama appeared on the Spanish-language TV station Univision and talked about the "gunwalking" controversy. He said that neither he nor Holder authorized the Fast and Furious case, and stated, "There may be a situation here in which a serious mistake was made, and if that's the case then we'll find out and we'll hold somebody accountable."
On May 3, 2011,Holder testified to the House Judiciary Committee that he did not know who approved Fast and Furious, but that it was being investigated. He also stated that he "probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks."
It strains credulity that Gary Grindler, Eric Holder’s own Chief of Staff, who one year earlier, on becoming the Acting Deputy Attorney General would not have been briefed on the Department’s policy regarding the Mexican gun cartels.
It strains credulity that Gary Grindler, as Acting Deputy Attorney General, would not have signed off on the Fast and Furious strike force briefing paper, that he would have forgotten the minute details of the power point presentation that he physically wrote on, that he would not have continued to exercise oversight on a program for which he was provided such a detailed presentation, that he would not have immediately connected the Terry murder with the Fast and Furious program; that he would not have immediately briefed his boss, Eric Holder; that he would not have spoken up to Holder when the Fast and Furious details went public; or when Holder’s Office received the letter from Senator Grassley (remember, Grindler is now Holder’s Chief of Staff!); or when President Obama refers to the Fast and Furious Program on Univision. It is even more puzzling why on May 3, when Holder testified that he did not know who approved Fast and Furious, Grindler did not immediately inform his boss of everything he knew, which MUST have included who approved the program.
There are only three possibilities. 1) Gary Grindler told Holder about Fast and Furious and is covering up for him; 2) Gary Grindler willfully and irresponsibly withheld policy and factual information of tremendous national importance from the Attorney General; or 3) Gary Grindler did not remember or could not put the facts of Fast and Furious together, meaning he is incomprehensibly incompetent to serve in such a senior-level position in the United Stated Department of Justice.
No matter which possibility is the truth, Brian Terry and many more people are dead because of the Fast and Furious program. Gary Grindler was fully aware of and briefed on that program. He did not stop that program or he perhaps did not brief the Attorney General about that program.
With so many murdered, it is time for Gary Grindler to go. Will Eric Holder hold people accountable, no matter how close they are to him?