(CNSNews.com) – Embattled Attorney General Eric Holder told a House panel investigating the botched Operation Fast and Furious gun sting operation that there was no cover up and he has not lost the confidence of Americans.
Already 103 members of Congress have called for Holder to resign over the Justice Department operation that allowed guns to flow to Mexican drug cartel. The operation was halted in December 2010 after two weapons the department lost track of in the program were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Holder insisted he did not know about the program until early 2011.
Holder insisted the committee take his entire record into account, but conceded the operation was “a flawed investigation both in content and execution.”
Holder was responding to a question from committee member Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) regarding how he might regain the trust of Americans after the failed operation.
“I’m not sure I have lost the trust of the American people,” Holder told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) was among members of the committee who brought up Holder’s resignation.
“Me and some of my colleagues have concluded that you should resign,” Farenthold said.
During the exchange, Holder said, “You ask me if I should resign, I want to respond to that.”
Holder said the Justice Department was a “dispirited department” that had “been politicized” under the Bush administration. He said he has had a strong record in the criminal, anti-trust and national security divisions of the department.
“If he wants to say I’m not a qualified person to be attorney general, you take that into account as well,” Holder said.
Farenthold responded that he was still concerned about the department withholding documents and suggested the administration might have allowed the continuation of the program in order to justify gun control laws.
“I’m concerned some of those documents are going to show the theory that has been floating around there was a delay on stopping Fast and Furious because based on some of the things people on the other side of the aisle have called for additional and stricter laws,” Farenthold said.
Holder earlier said there was never a cover-up with regard to dealing with Congress on Operation Fast and Furious.
“We’re not going to be hiding behind any executive privilege or anything,” Holder said. “With regard to post Feb. 5, Feb. 4, we will respond to those requests. The only thing we have talked about not responding to is deliberative material.”
Holder was referencing a Feb. 4, 2011 letter from the Justice Department to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) denying that gunwalking ever happened. The Justice Department later admitted the letter was incorrect, but officials said it was not meant to intentionally mislead.
According to the oversight committee, the Justice Department has only made public eight percent of the documents that have been identified as related to Fast and Furious, or about 6,000 of a total 80,000 documents. Meanwhile, out of the 22 categories of documents subpoenaed by the committee, the department has withheld two-thirds.