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Entries in Darrell Issa (12)

Monday
Oct222012

Rahm Emanuel: Darrell Issa ‘Reckless’ for Releasing Libya Documents

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel lashed out at Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, Sunday morning on This Week after the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee posted sensitive State Department cables relating to Libya online that “compromised the identities of several Libyans working with the U.S. government” according to Foreign Policy.

Emanuel called Issa’s actions “reckless” and said that they “put people at risk in Libya.”

“I have also worked in Congress where you have an oversight responsibility.  And with that oversight responsibility comes responsibility,” he said.  “And what Darrell Issa did by releasing names in that entire document of individuals who are working with America, put people at risk in Libya, and people around the world will now know that you’re at risk if you cooperate with the United States.  That office, that chairmanship of that committee comes with responsibility.  And you can not act reckless with it. ”

Emanuel defended the Obama administration’s handling of the Libya attack aftermath and said that it is not an issue that should be politicized.

“This is a time for the United States to come together, figure out what happened, which is what the commander in chief has to do, find out who did it, which is what the commander in chief has to demand, and then seek justice, which he has done repeatedly.  And I would warn again, or at least highlight again, when it came to getting Osama bin Laden, Mitt Romney said that shouldn’t be a priority of ours, and the president said absolutely different,” he said.

Issa, along with fellow GOP Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah penned a letter to President Obama last week that said the “American people deserve nothing less than a full explanation from this administration about these events, including why the repeated warnings about a worsening security situation appear to have been ignored.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug032012

Rep. Darrell Issa Demands Details on White House Email Use

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The powerful chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, Friday escalated a showdown with the White House over use of personal email accounts to conduct official government business.

In a letter to White House chief of staff Jack Lew, Issa requested the names of all administration staffers who have engaged in the practice, their email addresses and copies of work-related messages sent outside of government email servers.

Congressional Republicans and campaign aides to Mitt Romney have been alleging that members of the Obama White House, including former chief of staff Jim Messina, may have broken federal law by conducting official business through private accounts so as to avoid automatic archiving into the public record.

“The American people have a right to know that White House staff and federal officials are conducting the business of the government transparently and in accordance with record-keeping statutes,” Issa writes in the letter. He gave a deadline of Aug. 17 for his request.

Administration and Obama campaign officials insist they have obeyed all federal laws, forwarding business-related email from personal accounts into the White House servers for archiving.

“We all have personal email addresses, and for our longstanding relationships, they often use those personal email addresses,” said deputy Obama campaign manager and former White House adviser Stephanie Cutter on Wednesday.

“But at the White House we were all instructed for official business to just forward those emails into the White House system. And so that’s what we’ve all done.”

Issa, citing Cutter’s statement, said the apparent “often” use of private email accounts raises transparency concerns because the onus is on staff to do the forwarding -- a practice that is not subject to oversight.

“Unless all emails were forwarded to federal government (.gov) addresses or preserved as paper copies, there is a risk that records subject to the PRA or FRA were not retained as required by law,” he wrote.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the administration’s general counsel is reviewing the Issa letter and will “respond as appropriate.”

“Let’s be clear that this is nothing more than a nakedly political, taxpayer-funded effort designed to serve partisan interests, over an issue which House Republicans have already conceded is not serious,” Schultz said in a statement.

Democrats have pointed out that Issa and Republicans defended the George W. Bush administration against a similar inquiry in 2008. They also note that a Republican staff memo from the time noted “the White House is NOT required to preserve and retain every communication or piece of paper ever created” and that “oversight should not be a pretext for congressional micromanagement of executive branch functions.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun262012

Darrell Issa Writes Obama to Denounce Executive Privilege Ploy

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, has sent a letter to President Obama that challenges the president’s invocation of executive privilege as the committee seeks documents from the Department of Justice detailing the Obama administration’s role in the Fast and Furious gun walking operation. Issa first disclosed he would challenge Obama's executive privilege on Sunday's This Week with ABC News’ Jake Tapper.

In the seven-page letter dated June 25, Issa writes that the highest courts in the country have held that the assertion of the constitutionally-based executive privilege “is only applicable with respect to documents and communications that implicate the confidentiality of the President’s decision-making process, defined as those documents and communications to and from the President and his most senior advisors.”  

Issa, R-Calif, then questions Obama whether the White House was involved in a cover-up.

“Your privilege assertion means one of two things,” he writes.  “Either you or your most senior advisors were involved in managing Operation Fast & Furious and the fallout from it, including the false February 4, 2011 letter provided by the Attorney General to the Committee, or, you are asserting a Presidential power that you know to be unjustified solely for the purpose of further obstructing a congressional investigation.”
 
Issa previously told Tapper that the letter would break down “why the president’s executive privilege claim is either overbroad or simply wrong.”  He maintains that he only broke off negotiations for the documents with Attorney General Eric Holder when the committee “got a flat refusal to give us information needed for our investigation.”

“Our hope is that, as to at least a lot of these documents, including the documents often referred to as 1300, that were offered to us in this deal, that at least since those were offered to us, that…we would see them,” Issa told Tapper on Sunday.  “If those documents say what Eric Holder says they say, we might, in fact, dismiss contempt in either case, but I can tell you one thing here: If we get documents that…cast some doubt or allow us to understand this, we'll at least delay contempt and continue the process.”

In the letter, Issa once again states that he is holding out hope that the DOJ will comply with his subpoena request prior to a vote on a contempt citation in the full House of Representatives that’s scheduled for Thursday.  He also calls on the administration to enumerate “the universe of documents over which [Obama] asserted executive privilege and provide the Committee with the legal justification from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel,” and he makes another run at White House documents.

"So that the Committee and the public can better understand your role, and the role of your most senior advisors, in connection with Operation Fast and Furious, please clarify the question raised by your assertion of executive privilege: To what extent were you or your most senior advisors involved in Operation Fast and Furious and the fallout from it, including the false February 4, 2011 letter provided by the Attorney General to the Committee?" Issa demands.  "Please also identify any communications, meetings, and teleconferences between the White House and the Justice Department between February 4, 2011 and June 18, 2012, the day before the Attorney General requested that you assert executive privilege."

If a resolution is not reached, the House is expected to approve the contempt citation on Thursday in what would become the first instance of either chamber of Congress voting to hold the U.S. attorney general in contempt of Congress.  Last week, Issa’s committee voted along party lines to send the contempt resolution on to the full House.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun202012

White House Invokes Executive Privilege on ‘Fast and Furious’ Docs

Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- The White House has invoked executive privilege over documents at the center of the stand-off between Attorney General Eric Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigating the Justice Department's "Fast and Furious" program.

"The President has asserted executive privilege over the relevant post-February 4, 2011, documents," deputy attorney general James Cole wrote Issa this morning.

"We regret that we have arrived at this point, after the many steps we have taken to address the Committee's concerns and to accommodate the Committee's legitimate oversight interests regarding Operation Fast and Furious."

The move comes ahead of an expected committee vote on whether to put Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over the documents. It is the first time President Obama has asserted executive privilege in a dispute with Congress.

In a letter Tuesday to Obama, Holder formally requested presidential intervention, citing "significant, damaging consequences" in releasing the documents and "separation of powers concerns."

The documents "were not generated in the the course of the conduct of Fast and Furious. Instead, they were created after the investigative tactics at issue in that operation had terminated and in the course of the Department's deliberative process concerning how to respond to congressional and related media inquiries into that operation," he wrote.

Holder has said the department has already provided "extraordinary" access to documents and administration officials to answer questions about the incident.

Still, Issa and Republicans on the committee believe the as yet undisclosed information is critical to understanding how the administration responded to the unfolding scandal surrounding program that allegedly allowed U.S. weapons to cross the border into Mexico in order to track gun runners. One of the weapons was later found to be used in the shooting death of a U.S. border patrol agent.

Republican committee members say the documents in question could shed light on whether officials participated in a cover up.

"Our purpose has never been to hold the attorney general in contempt. Our purpose has always been to get the information the committee needs to complete its work, that it is not only entitled to but obligated to do," Issa said today during a committee hearing.

"More than eight months after a subpoena, and clearly after the question of executive privilege could have and should have been asserted, this untimely assertion by the Justice Department falls short of any reason to delay today's proceedings," he said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who has been leading a Senate investigation into Fast and Furious, said Obama's move raises "monumental questions."

"How can the President assert executive privilege if there was no White House involvement? How can the President exert executive privilege over documents he's supposedly never seen? Is something very big being hidden to go to this extreme?" Grassley said in a statement.

Obama administration officials say the assertion of privilege over non-presidential executive branch communications is not unprecedented.

President Bill Clinton used executive privilege 14 times and President George W. Bush invoked it six times, officials said, including in cases that involved documents similar to those sought in the Fast and Furious congressional inquiry.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun192012

Contempt Vote Still Planned for Wednesday After Issa Rejects Holder’s Proposal

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder took a brief ride from the Department of Justice to the Capitol late Tuesday afternoon to meet with top lawmakers from both parties, trying to avoid an embarrassing contempt vote scheduled for Wednesday. But his proposal was quickly rejected by Congress’s own top cop.

Holder has faced a steady stream of criticism since news of the Fast and Furious operation broke from the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Darrell Issa. He told reporters after their meeting that the Department of Justice had made an “unprecedented number of documents available” in order to lay out a plan that would bring a resolution to the standoff. Now, Holder says, the next move is up to Issa.

“There was no intention to mislead, or deceive. This is material that we think was not even called for in some of the…subpoenas that we have received. We nevertheless thought in good faith and as I said in an attempt to resolve this matter that we would make this material available,” Holder said. “The ball is in their court. They rejected what I thought was an extraordinary offer on our part. They have I guess until they decide. They have the ability to change their minds.”

The attorney general maintained that given the “extraordinary nature” of his department’s compliance, further friction with the committee would be “political gamesmanship.”

“Nevertheless we are prepared to provide these materials, to brief on these materials, to answer questions on these materials,” Holder said.

Afterwards, Issa told reporters that he was “disappointed” Holder had not provided committee investigators with documents or answers that the panel has long sought in the Fast and Furious gun walking probe, but he was holding out hope that the department would comply with his requests before Wednesday’s proceedings begin at 10:00 a.m.

“[Holder] came with an offer of a briefing. We went through the process of what was being offered and responded as I think we have to. Which is that the document that they may choose to give in the future, we need to have before tomorrow,” said Issa, a California Republican. “Ultimately, the documents necessary to cause a postponement appear to be in their possession. We’re hoping that we have them tonight. If we can evaluate them even partially, then that will give us grounds to negotiate a postponement and perhaps a final resolution.”

While the contempt vote appears to be on schedule, Issa hinted that he could still postpone it.

“The deadline will always move to the very last minute. We always want to be respectful that if we get the information or any information that allows us to rethink contempt and, in fact, make progress on behalf of Brian Terry’s family and the American people,” Issa said.

The chairman was referring to the U.S. Border Patrol officer who was killed by weapons Mexican criminals obtained through the operation.

“We have no hard deadlines,” Issa said. “We do have a markup marked up for tomorrow. If we receive no documents, we’ll go forward. If we receive documents, we’ll evaluate them, and we’ll take such time as is necessary in delay to be sure of the quality of these documents and whether they’re sufficient.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun072012

Fast & Furious: Issa Says AG Holder Is 'Not a Good Witness'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee, marking the eighth time he has appeared before Congress to testify about the ATF’s botched gun running operation. Holder faced numerous questions from members about the program but little new was learned. While Holder did not have specifics he did testify that about 800-1,200 of the 2,000 guns from Fast and Furious have been recovered.
 
Rep. Darrell Issa, who serves on the Judiciary Committee and chairs the House Oversight Government Reform Committee, berated Holder when it was his turn to question the attorney general.
 
“I want to ask you, first of all, today, have you and your attorneys produced internally the materials responsive to the subpoenas?” Issa asked.
 
“We believe that we have responded to the subpoenas,” Holder said.
 
Issa snapped, “No, Mr. Attorney General, you're not a good witness. A good witness answers the question asked. So let's go back again: Have you and your attorneys produced internally the materials response? In other words, have you taken the time to look up our subpoena and find out what material you have responsive to it or you simply invented a privilege that doesn't exist?”
 
Holder testified that the Justice Department has processed millions of electronic records, and reviewed over 140,000 documents and produced 7,600 documents to Issa’s subpoenas.
 
Issa then turned to the ATF wiretaps that were provided to Issa and his investigators.
 
“[The wiretap applications] indicate that a number of key individuals in your administration in fact were responsible for information contained in here that clearly shows that the tactics of Fast and Furious were known. They were known and are contained in these wiretaps,” Issa told Holder.
 
“I have read them, and I disagree with the conclusion you've just reached,” Holder rebutted. Under further questioning, Holder later testified that the Deputy Assistant Attorney General at DOJ who reviewed the applications did not review all the paperwork associated with the wiretap request but relied on a summary of the wiretap application.
 
“They read summaries of the applications. And that is a process that has been used by this administration and by all previous administrations.”
 
Later in the hearing Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who has also reviewed the leaked secret wiretaps, asked if Holder would sit down with him to review why the attorney general had reached his conclusion that the wiretaps did not reveal certain tactics used in Fast and Furious.
 
“I want you to show me how you don't come to that conclusion. And I'd like to show you why I think there's a preponderance of evidence that would lead one to believe that yes, indeed, the Department of Justice did know about this,” Chaffetz asked of Holder.
 
“Well, I don't think that, under the federal law, I have an ability to talk about,” Holder, said citing Justice Department regulations making it illegal to discuss information sealed by courts.
 
Later Holder explained to the committee: “We are by law prohibited from discussing or turning over the contents of wiretap-related material. There is a criminal provision that has a five-year penalty that prevents us from doing that with -- and there's also a very practical reason. There are concerns that one would have about people who are involved in these matters. You might put victims' safety at risk. You might put at risk the success of a prosecution. Those are all the reasons why there are very tight restrictions on the provision of material connected to wiretaps.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May042012

Rep. Darrell Issa Threatens AG Eric Holder with Contempt of Congress

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The undercover, gun-walking operation was called “Fast and Furious.”

Now, some furious congressional investigators want to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for allegedly blocking their efforts to get the facts about the controversial operation -- a charge the Justice Department “strongly disputes.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government reform, Thursday circulated the draft contempt order to his colleagues.  It asks them to hold Holder in contempt for his alleged “failure to comply with a Congressional subpoena” in the “Fast and Furious” investigation.

“Fast and Furious” was a botched, undercover-operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) that resulted in assault weapons being ‘walked’ from American gun stores across the border into Mexico, and into the hands of alleged drug cartel members.  ATF’s plan was to use undercover “straw purchasers” to buy the guns, track their illegal movement into Mexico, then arrest the drug cartel members receiving and using the guns in criminal acts.  But the agency lost track of many of the weapons and few arrests were made.

Issa’s draft contempt citation against the attorney general charges that around 2,000 firearms fell into the hands of drug cartels and may have lead to the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent as a result of Operation Fast and Furious. And he alleges that the Justice Department failed to provide many of the documents about the operation that the committee requested during its investigation.

“The [Justice] Department’s refusal to work with Congress...to compel the production of these documents and information related to this controversy is inexcusable and cannot stand,” Issa wrote. “Those responsible for allowing Fast and Furious to proceed and those who are preventing the truth about the operation from coming out must be held accountable for their actions.”

But a Department of Justice official strongly disputed the charge that the department has not complied with the committee’s requests for documents and information, citing the turning over of more than 7,600 pages as part of 46 separate productions of documents.  The official also pointed out that Attorney General Holder has testified to Congress on “Fast and Furious” seven times in the last year and a half, and the Justice Department has provided many other officials to congressional investigators.

On Thursday evening the Justice Department formally responded to Issa’s claims and threat to move forward with the contempt resolution.

“The department strongly disputes the contention that we have failed to cooperate with the committee’s review of Operation Fast and Furious as asserted in the staff briefing paper and draft contempt of Congress resolution that the Committee released today,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote in a letter Thursday.

“Some have questioned why the department’s inspector general has received a greater number of documents than have been provided to the committee,” Cole added. “The answer lies in the fact that the Office of Inspector General, as a component of the department, is entitled in these circumstances to review material that is not appropriate for disclosure outside the department.”

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who is conducting the “Fast and Furious” investigation in the Senate, has offered support for Issa’s call for the attorney general to be cited for contempt of Congress.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr192012

Secret Service Agents Brought Prostitutes in 'Contact with Sensitive Info'

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The partying U.S. Secret Service agents and officers who allegedly brought prostitutes into their Cartagena, Colombia, hotel rooms brought the call girls “into contact with sensitive security information,” the Chair and ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform wrote to Mark J. Sullivan, the director of the U.S. Secret Service on Wednesday.

Sources tell ABC News that this was a reference to Sullivan, in a Monday meeting with congressional investigators, expressing concern that there was sensitive information in one or more of the rooms at the Hotel Caribe.

The charge is contained in a letter from Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who wrote to Sullivan on Wednesday that the “nation’s capacity to protect the President, the Vice President, and visiting foreign leaders, among others, is dependent on the character and judgment of the agents and officers of the U.S. Secret Service.  The actions of at least 11 agents and officers in Colombia last week showed an alarming lack of both.”

[ CLICK HERE TO READ THE LETTER ]

“The facts as you described them raised questions about the agency’s culture,” the two congressmen write.  “The incident in Cartagena is troubling because Secret Service agents and officers made a range of bad decisions, from drinking too much, to engaging with prostitutes, to bringing foreign nationals into contact with sensitive security information, to exposing themselves to blackmail and other forms of potential compromise.”

In addition, the committee leaders asked for detailed information about the incident, including a “description of the Secret Service’s current understanding of possible agent misconduct that occurred on the evening of Wednesday, April 11 and the morning of Thursday, April 12″; a “complete description and account of all U.S. Government personnel who were involved in or had contemporaneous knowledge of misconduct by agents and officers”; a timeline; summaries of all disciplinary actions since 2002 that have been taken against the 11 agents and officers involved in the Colombian incident; and a determination as to whether “all women involved in this incident were at least 18 years of age.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct202011

GOP to FBI Director: Did Fast and Furious Gun Kill Border Agent?

U.S. Border Patrol agents salute while standing vigil over the boots and helmet of slain comrade Brian Terry during his memorial service on January 21, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a letter to FBI director Robert Mueller Thursday, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tried to get a definitive answer as to whether or not any of the guns from the Fast and Furious program killed border agent Brian Terry, and an explanation as to why there have been inconsistent stories about Terry’s death.

“As you know, two weapons recovered at the scene of Agent Terry’s murder have been traced to Fast and Furious,” the GOP lawmakers wrote. “Yet the FBI has released very little information about the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting. Anonymous Justice Department sources initially told the press that the two Fast and Furious guns had been ballistically excluded as the murder weapon and that the murder weapon had not been recovered. However, we obtained a copy of the report, and in actuality, it does not exclude the Fast and Furious guns. Rather, it is inconclusive. So, apparently someone from the Justice Department attempted to deceive the press.”

Terry was killed last December, shot in the back by Mexicans suspected of being involved in criminal enterprises. Guns found at the scene have since been tied to a controversial U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives program in which individuals suspected of buying guns in order to illegally traffic them were allowed to do so, in the hope that they would lead investigators to bigger fish in Mexico. Thousands of powerful guns were allowed to “walk” to Mexico, and have since been tied to crime scenes.

In ABC News' interview with President Obama on Tuesday, he said that “people who have screwed up will be held accountable....Our overarching goal consistently has been to say we’ve got a responsibility not only to stop drugs from flowing north, we’ve also got a responsibility to make sure we are not helping to either arm or finance these drug cartels in Mexico.”

“It’s very upsetting to me to think that somebody showed such bad judgment that they would allow something like that to happen,” he said. “And we will find out who and what happened in this situation and make sure it gets corrected.”

The Senate on Tuesday voted to ban funding for any future gun-walking programs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Oct102011

Issa Claim on Energy Company In District Contradicted by Letter to Department of Energy

The Office of Congressman Darrell Issa(WASHINGTON) -- On Fox News Sunday, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chair of the House Investigations Committee pushing for more information from the Obama administration about the $535 million loan guarantee to benefit Solyndra, was asked about a company in his district applying for a loan for which he advocated.

“You say government shouldn’t play venture capitalist. It shouldn’t be picking winners and losers,” said Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace. “But it turns out that you sent several letters over the last couple of years to the federal Energy Department asking for federal loan guarantees for clean energy companies in your state. Didn’t you do the same thing that you are accusing them of doing?”

Issa disputed the charge, saying, “the request was: they have a loan application and would you please give them a yes or no -- and that’s a big difference.”

But the first sentence of Issa’s Jan. 14, 2010 letter to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu reads: “I write to express my support of Aptera Motors; application for a loan under the Department of Energy’s 136 Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program (ATVMIP).”

Far from merely asking the Energy Department to make a decision, Issa advocated for the company, writing that “electric vehicle initiatives like Aptera’s will aid U.S. long-term energy goals by shifting away from fossil fuels and using viable renewable energy sources like plug-in electric energy.”

A spokesman for Issa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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