A single internal Department of Justice email could be the smoking-gun document in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal — if it turns out to contain what congressional investigators have said it does.
The document would establish that wiretap application documents show senior DOJ officials knew about and approved the gunwalking tactic in Fast and Furious. This is the opposite of what Attorney General Eric Holder and House oversight committee ranking Democratic member Rep. Elijah Cummings have claimed.
It appears that email would also prove senior DOJ officials, likely including Holder himself, knew in March 2011 that a Feb. 4, 2011 letter from the DOJ to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley falsely denied guns were permitted to "walk" into Mexico. The DOJ allowed that false letter to stand for nine more months, only withdrawing it in December 2011.
During the June 24 broadcast of Fox News Sunday, House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa cited the email as a "good example" of a specific document his committee knows Holder is hiding from Congress.
"The ATF director, Kenneth Melson, sent an e-mail. And he had said to us in sworn testimony that, in fact, he had concerns," Issa said. "And we want to see that e-mail because that's an example where he was saying, if we believe his sworn testimony, that guns walked. And he said it shortly after February 4, and [on] July 4. When he told us that, we began asking for that document."
But the details of it surfaced first when Grassley mentioned it for the first time publicly during a June 12 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where Holder was testifying.
"He [Melson] immediately sent an email warning others, ‘back off the letter to Sen. Grassley in light of the information in the affidavits,'" Grassley explained.