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AG Eric Holder to Congress: 'Lying' About Fast and Furious 'A State of Mind'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Congressman Darrell Issa, R-CA, declared Attorney General Eric Holder a "hostile witness" before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday as Holder testified about the botched gun trafficking operation called Fast and Furious run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Issa, who serves on the judiciary committee, has been leading the Congressional inquiry into the ATF operation as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  He said that not all documents have been provided to his Committee's investigators and he wanted to know why no emails to or from Holder appeared in the thousands of pages of documents that the Justice Department (DOJ) has provided to Congress.

"There is not one email that is yours," Issa said, surrounded by boxes of documents that the DOJ has provided to his staff.

Issa indicated that he may subpoena Holder and other top Justice Department officials to testify before his committee in January.  Holder said that the DOJ has provided unprecedented information to Congress and that he would consider the request to appear before Issa's committee.

In his prepared testimony, Holder called Fast and Furious "inexcusable," and said the operation run by the ATF made use of "misguided tactics."

In asking why a Department of Justice letter to Congress was withdrawn last week, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner pressed Holder, reminding him that lying to Congress constitutes a federal felony. "There have been statements [made to Congress by the Justice Department] that have been so misleading that a letter had to be withdrawn," Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said. "...Heads should roll."

Holder insisted, "Nobody at the Justice Department lied," and then when pressed about, "the difference between lying and misleading congress" by Sensenbrenner, Holder explained, "It all has to do with your state of mind."

Congress has been investigating Fast and Furious and how the ATF ran the gun trafficking operation that resulted in a reported 1,800 firearms flowing into Mexico. Two were found at the scene of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed by Mexican drug smugglers on Dec. 14, 2010.

Testifying on Thursday, Holder said that the operation was organized by ATF in Phoenix and did not originate out of Washington or from orders out of Justice Department headquarters.

He claims that he became aware of the operation sometime in the beginning of 2011 and directed the Justice Department Inspector General to conduct a formal inquiry after learning about the tactics used in Fast and Furious and getting some conflicting information from media reports and Congressional inquires.  The Inspector General's review is expected to be released sometime early next year.

And despite calls from some members of Congress for his resignation, Holder -- who rolled his eyes and slouched defiantly in his seat throughout his testimony -- said on Thursday that he had no intention to resign over the Fast and Furious controversy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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