Holder's Chief of Staff to Resign After Critical Fast and Furious Report
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Attorney General Eric Holder’s chief of staff, Gary Grindler, plans to resign his post at the Department of Justice on Wednesday. Grindler was directly involved in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal.
Congressional investigators from House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa’s and Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley’s offices detailed Grindler’s involvement in a recent report. They say Grindler, with other senior DOJ officials, “attended a detailed briefing on Operation Fast and Furious in March 2010.”
“Despite the evidence presented at the briefing of illegally-purchased firearms being recovered in Mexico and in the U.S., Grindler and Siskel failed to ask probing questions or take any significant follow-up action to monitor and supervise the conduct of the case,” a press release accompanying the report added.
Grindler’s handwritten notes from the meeting have become a focal point of the Fast and Furious investigation in Congress.
At that time, Grindler was Holder’s Deputy Attorney General – the second-highest ranking Justice Department official. On Jan. 3, 2011 – after Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed, but before Fast and Furious was known to the public – Holder moved Grindler from the DAG spot over to become his chief of staff. Throughout the Fast and Furious scandal’s development up until this point, Grindler has remained in that spot.
The DOJ’s internal Inspector General also ripped Grindler for his part in Fast and Furious. “We determined that Grindler learned on December 17, 2010, of the link between weapons found at the Terry murder scene and Operation Fast and Furious but did not inform the Attorney General about this information,” the Inspector General wrote. He chided Grindler for relying on the FBI, which was incapable of investigating crucial facets of the case:
We believe that he should have informed the Attorney General as well as made an appropriate inquiry of ATF or the U.S. Attorney’s Office about the connection. Grindler told us that he was relying on the FBI to investigate the homicide and that would include investigation of the weapons in question. We found that Grindler’s reliance on the FBI was misplaced given that it did not have the responsibility to determine whether errors in ATF’s investigation led to the weapons ending up at the murder scene or why ATF failed to take law enforcement action against Avila for nearly one year and did so only after Agent Terry’s murder. We also believe that Grindler should have ensured that the Department of Homeland Security was informed about the linkage.
In a late Monday statement, Issa lauded Grindler’s resignation and said he expects more Fast and Furious accountability in the near future. “Gary Grindler was appropriately faulted by his Department’s own Inspector General for keeping information about a connection between the murder of a Border Patrol Agent and a mishandled department operation away from the Attorney General and the Department of Homeland Security,” Issa said in a statement. “His departure from the Justice Department is warranted and long overdue. Other figures in Operation Fast and Furious are currently being evaluated for their conduct in the reckless effort that needlessly placed lives in danger. I expect more departures and discipline to come.”
When asked if his resignation this week has anything to do with Fast and Furious, a Justice Department spokesperson told Breitbart News that the two are “not related at all.”
In a statement, Holder praised Grindler. “Since returning to the Department in 2009, Gary has distinguished himself as an exceptional public servant, a trusted advisor, and a principled leader,” Holder said. He continued his ovation:
Throughout his tenure – as Acting Deputy Attorney General and as my chief of staff – Gary has played a central role in our work to protect the American people and I will always be grateful for his dedication to the Department, his service to our Nation, and his sound advice and personal friendship. He has demonstrated time and again his good judgment and an ability to make the tough – and correct – decisions. I cannot imagine the Department without Gary, though I wish him all the best as he considers opportunities in the private sector – and I know that his extraordinary contributions will continue to guide our efforts.
More than 130 House Republicans and several GOP U.S. senators have demanded Holder’s resignation in the wake of the gun-walking scandal. A bipartisan group in the House also voted Holder into civil and criminal contempt of Congress.
Over the weekend, reports surfaced that several other officials involved in Fast and Furious were fired.