Entries in Attorney General (6)


Ryan Targets AG Holder in Fundraising Letter

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- The Romney campaign is using Attorney General Eric Holder as their latest foil for raising campaign cash.

In an email sent to supporters, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan writes “donate now to vote Barack Obama and Attorney General Holder out of office on Election Day -- so that Mitt Romney and I can restore justice to the Justice Department.”

The letter begins with Ryan calling for Holder to “step aside” because of the Fast and Furious gun investigation scandal.

“He’s misled Congress, and entirely botched the investigation of the Operation Fast and Furious debacle -- yet he still leads our nation’s Justice Department,” Ryan writes in the fundraising letter. “It’s just another example of the Obama Administration’s transparent hypocrisy that despite the tragic and very human toll of this scandal, Attorney General Holder refuses to resign -- and President Obama refuses to remove him.”

Ryan became the 131st House Republican to call for the attorney general’s resignation Sunday when his spokesperson told the Daily Caller that Ryan agreed with Mitt Romney that Holder should resign over the scandal. Romney called for Holder’s resignation last December.

Ryan is currently at debate camp in Virginia preparing for his face-off against Joe Biden on Oct. 11. An aide said the preparation included a lengthy set of debate exchanges with former Solicitor General and Biden stand-in Ted Olson, a series of meetings, and time for reading policy materials.

He will watch Wednesday night’s debate from Virginia with aides.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


AG Eric Holder Disgusted By Personal Attacks at Fast and Furious Hearing

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder faced attacks on his character and tenure as attorney general at a congressional committee hearing on the gun program known as “Fast and Furious,” which was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Holder defended his record but the hearing yielded little information about the gun trafficking investigation. Instead, Republican members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee attacked Holder for previous testimony, his role in the pardoning of Marc Rich at the end of the Clinton administration and his decision to open a criminal investigation into torture by CIA operatives against terrorism detainees.

The House committee has been investigating the actions by ATF and Justice Department officials involving the gun trafficking case that resulted in about 2,000 guns being allowed to go to drug cartels and criminal groups in Mexico. The ATF operation took a tragic toll when two guns linked to the operation were found near slain U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry on Dec. 14, 2010.

A staff memo prepared by congressional investigators working for the committee with Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, released before the hearing offered a new detail about the ATF’s failure to identify two targets in its gun trafficking case. However, the issue was glossed over by committee members in their questioning.

The report noted that one of the two members of a drug cartel had already been identified in a DEA wiretap log and was under investigation by the DEA and the FBI.

The report noted, “DEA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had jointly opened a separate investigation specifically targeting these two cartel associates. As early as mid-January 2010, both agencies had collected a wealth of information on these associates.  Yet, ATF spent the next year engaging in the reckless tactics of Fast and Furious in attempting to identify them.”

Holder faced some tough questioning about why the Justice Department has turned over only 6,400 pages of documents when the Justice Department inspector general has access to an estimated 80,000 pages of documents as part of the internal review.

“It appears as though we’re being stonewalled, and there’s something that’s being hidden,” said Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.

Justice Department officials have said that the inspector general’s review allows the internal DOJ investigators to have access to all grand jury materials and all unredacted documents such as wiretap transcripts.

“I’ve heard, you know, the magic word here, ‘cover-up,’ and I want to make clear that there is no attempt at any kind of cover-up.  We have shared huge amounts of information.  We will continue to share huge amounts of information,” Holder said later in the hearing.

Holder faced a torrent of questions about his character and his time at the Justice Department.

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-N.Y., asked Holder, “So let me ask it this way:  How many more Border Patrol agents would have had to die as a part of Operation Fast and Furious for you to take responsibility?”

Holder bristled at the question, telling the congresswoman, “You know, I mean, really, is that the way in which you want to be seen, you want to be known? You know, I should be held accountable for, certainly, my role in whatever I did or didn’t do in connection with the supervision of Fast and Furious, but I’m attorney general of the United States and I should also be accountable and perhaps even given some credit -- imagine that -- given some credit for the things that this Justice Department has done under my leadership, whether it deals with national security, revitalized antitrust, revitalized civil rights enforcement effort.  And so one has to balance all of these things.

“I get up every day and try to do the best job that I can.  I have great faith in the people who work in the department. And, you know, that kind of question, I think, is, frankly -- and again, respectfully -- I think that’s beneath a member of Congress,” Holder said.

Although Issa tried to limit the scope of the hearing to only focus on Fast and Furious controversy, Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., blasted Holder for his handling of the Marc Rich pardon and for Holder’s decision to reopen a criminal investigation into abuse and torture of terrorism detainees by CIA operatives and interrogators.

“Given the decision to almost engage in character assassination, I’m going to respond to at least some of that.” Holder said. “I’m the attorney general of the United States, OK?  And when it comes to deciding what I’m going to investigate, how I’m going to  investigate, I take into account a wide variety of things.  The decision I made to open up those CIA matters -- and I was aware that this was something that was opposed by a great many people … that investigation has run its course.  We are at a point where we are about to close those investigations.”

Towards the end of the hearing, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, told Holder that he should resign and said, “You either lied or you were grossly incompetent in your actions when it came to finding out about Fast and Furious and your handling of this matter.”

Labrador then showed the committee a series of statements Holder had made about the Marc Rich pardon, which drew the ire of a disgusted attorney general.

“That was among the worst things I think I’ve ever seen in Congress,” Holder said,   “You took a whole series of statements out of context, with no context.”

Holder added, “The Marc Rich thing was considered in my confirmation, talked about it then.  There is a whole bunch of things that I could say about what you just did, and maybe this is the way you do things, you know, in Idaho or wherever you’re from. But understand something.  What I’ve done — I’m proud of the work that I’ve done as attorney general of the United States.  And looked at fairly– I think that I’ve done, you know, a pretty good job.  Have I been perfect?  No.  Have I made mistakes?  Yes.  Do I treat the members of this committee with respect?  I always hope that I do.  And what you have just done is, if nothing else, disrespectful. And if you don’t like me, that’s one thing, but you should respect the fact that I hold an office that is deserving of respect. And, you know, maybe you’re new to this committee.  I don’t know. I don’t know how long you’ve been here.  But my hope would be that, you know, we can get beyond that kind of interaction, that kind of treatment of a witness, whether it’s me or somebody else, because I think in some ways what you did was fundamentally unfair, just not right.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Attorney General Holder Showdown on Voting Rights Law

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department may attempt to block a slew of new state laws changing requirements to vote -- that’s the warning being issued Tuesday night in a speech by Attorney General Eric Holder in Texas. If the department decides to challenge laws in more than a dozen states, including some that are now requiring photo identification in order to vote, it could lead to legal showdowns over the ballot box in a variety of states in the middle of a white-hot election year. And the potential showdown is likely to stoke the animosity between Attorney General Eric Holder and Republican members of Congress who already been battling over a controversial ATF operation.

According to Holder, the key question is whether the new laws have a discriminatory or disproportionate impact on minorities and the elderly. In referencing the dozen or so states that have recently changed voting guidelines, Holder specifically singled out Texas, South Carolina and Florida as being under review. Texas and South Carolina have seen changes involving “photo identification requirements” and in Florida there have been changes to early voting procedures.

"Although I cannot go into detail about the ongoing review of these and other state-law changes, I can assure you that it will be thorough -- and fair,” Holder will say.  “We will examine the facts, and we will apply the law. If a state passes a new voting law and meets its burden of showing that the law is not discriminatory, we will follow the law and approve the change.  And where a state can’t meet this burden, we will object as part of our obligation under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Child Pornography Found on Assistant US Attorney’s Computer

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, questioned the Justice Department Thursday on why it declined to prosecute an unnamed Assistant U.S. Attorney after the department’s Inspector General (IG) found child pornography on the Attorney’s work computer.

According to the IG’s report, the Assistant U.S. Attorney acknowledged he spent a significant amount of time each day viewing pornography during work hours. The report also cited that at least one image depicting child pornography was recovered on the attorney’s government computer.

The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to prosecute the case. As of May 31, 2011, disciplinary action against the attorney was still pending, according to the report.

“As the case for disciplinary action is ‘pending’ as of May 31, 2011, this means that, at the very least, the Department of Justice has allowed an admitted serial viewer of pornography – possibly child pornography – to serve as an Assistant United States Attorney for two months, if not longer, and has yet to take action,” Grassley said in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on July 7.

In 2010, Grassley learned that 33 employees at the Securities and Exchange Commission who were found to have viewed pornography during work hours were not terminated and were given uneven and light disciplinary action.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Can Former Attorney General John Ashcroft Be Sued for 9/11 Policies?

Photo Courtesy - Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Abdullah Al-Kidd, a U.S. citizen and former football star at the University of Idaho, was arrested by the FBI nearly eight years ago and held for 15 days because of his connections to a suspected terrorist.

Al-Kidd was never charged with a crime, arguing now that he was improperly detained and should be able to sue former Attorney General John Ashcroft, which the U.S. Supreme Court will take up Wednesday.

Like many people after the attacks of 9-11, Al-Kidd was held under the material witness statute that allows law enforcement to detain individuals if their testimony might be material to an ongoing criminal proceeding.

However, Al-Kidd, 37, alleges Ashcroft stretched the material witness law and used it not to detain witnesses for testimony but to hold them without probable cause as terrorism suspects.

A lower court ruled that the case could go forward because Ashcroft, as a former government official, does not have immunity against such suits. The Supreme Court will review the ruling Wednesday.

In court papers, Ashcroft -- who, as a former government official, is being represented by the Obama Administration -- argues that a federal magistrate issued a warrant for Al-Kidd's arrest under the material witness statute because of Al-Kidd's ties to Sami Omar Al-Hussayen.

Al-Hussayen, a citizen of Saudi Arabia, was at the time being investigated for false statement and visa fraud offenses. Ashcroft argues that the FBI moved to detain Al-Kidd after learning he had immediate plans to fly to Saudi Arabia.

But Al-Kidd, a Muslim who is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, said he was going to Saudi Arabia to study, and that his only connection to Al-Hussayen was a charitable organization where they both worked.

He says that when held for his potential testimony against Al-Hussayen, he was confined to a high security wing, strip-searched, and routinely shackled. Al-Kid's attorneys claims that Ashcroft improperly instituted a nationwide policy regarding the material witness statute, using it as a pretext to detain terrorism suspects for investigative purposes. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Meg Whitman Called "Whore" in Jerry Brown Phone Message

Photo Courtesy - Eric Draper/Meg Whitman for Governor 2010(LOS ANGELES) -- California Attorney General Jerry Brown, the state's Democratic candidate for governor, left a phone message in early September for a union official whose endorsement he was seeking, but apparently forgot to hang up -- because a lively discussion between him and some staffers afterward is caught on tape. And either Brown or a staffer -- there is some dispute -- uses the word "whore" to describe his Republican rival Meg Whitman.

The recording, obtained by the Los Angeles Times from the L.A. Police Union, is muffled and hard to hear. But the word "whore" is definitely thrown around several times at the notion of Whitman making a special deal with union officials to protect their pensions.

"Do we want to put an ad out?…That I have been warned if I crack down on pensions, I will be -- that they'll go to Whitman, and that's where they'll go because they know Whitman will give 'em, will cut them a deal, but I won't," Brown said.

Then someone says, "What about saying she's a whore?"

It is not entirely clear if that last part is said by Brown or an aide.

"Well, I'm going to use that," Brown responds a moment later. "It proves you've cut a secret deal to protect the pensions."

Whitman's campaign quickly jumped on the leaked recording and the use of such a derogatory term.

"The use of the term 'whore' is an insult to both Meg Whitman and to the women of California. This is an appalling and unforgivable smear against Meg Whitman. At the very least Mr. Brown tacitly approved this despicable slur and he himself may have used the term at least once on this recording," said Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei.

Brown's spokesman apologized.

"At times our language was salty. We apologize to Ms. Whitman and anyone who may have been offended," Brown's campaign manager Steven Glazer said in a statement Thursday night.

Beyond the use of the word in the recording, Brown seems to be saying that if he won't give the union pensions special treatment in pension reform plans, they will send their endorsement to Whitman. Brown says on the call that it seems who he says has told the unions she will cut them a special deal on their police pensions. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio