Newell’s actions during the hearings exuded a comfortable contempt for the committee’s investigation.
Further, after listening to and reading testimony from BATFE witnesses in this and earlier hearings, Newell and McMahon dug in on the central issue of “gun walking.” According to them, it never happened.
Issa and other members drew out Newell to agree that “Fast and Furious” guns that he allowed to be illegally purchased at licensed dealers had, indeed, ended up traced back from Mexico. No doubt. But as for walking?
Consider this exchange between Newell and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
Chaffetz began: “You testified today in your opening statement; ‘It is not the purpose of the investigation [‘Fast and Furious’] to permit the transportation of firearms into Mexico.’ That’s today … Yet in … January 8, 2010 … you write, ‘Currently our strategy is to allow the transfer of firearms [to Mexico] to continue to take place.’ … So it was the goal. It was the intention of the program to allow guns to be trafficked to Mexico based on this memo. Is that correct?”
Newell answered, “No, sir.”
Chaffetz shot back that he was reading from Newell’s own statement. “It also says in here, a number of different seizures in Mexico. It seems very inconsistent at best to suggest that it was not the purpose to allow them to go to Mexico.”
Newell’s answer was pure double-talk.
“Well, sir, if I may, and I’m, I’m glad I’m given the opportunity to clarify that paragraph that has been obviously well publicized. The wording in that, the way my understanding was when that briefing paper was drafted was that our efforts to allow the transfer to identify additional co-conspirators was so that we could further the investigation, takeout the whole organization. Otherwise these individuals would in fact continue in a probably a larger …”
In utter frustration, Chaffetz said, “So you allowed hundreds or thousands of weapons to continue to flow through this program and go into Mexico?”
Newell, pumping the fog machine, replied, “I’m sorry, can you repeat the question, sir?”
Then the exchange got even stranger (from the transcript):
Chaffetz: How many hundreds or thousands of weapons did you allow to be purchased knowing that they were going to Mexico?
Newell: The purchase was being done by a criminal organization, a large scale …
Chaffetz: But you facilitated it. You allowed it, did you not? You were a part of the program. Allow these straw purchases to happen so that the guns could end up in Mexico? And you know in 2009, that that’s happening.
Newell: Sir, again, the goal of the organization, the goal of the investigation was to disrupt and dismantle the entire …
Chaffetz: … the problem is you were purposely, knowingly allowing the guns to go to Mexico. And you have information in 2009 that it’s being successful.
Yet you never put a stop to it. It’s meeting the goals and intentions you laid out in this memo in January 2010and it continued on and on. And consequently there were thousands of weapons that ended up in Mexico killing people.
That’s the reason that we’re here today. When did you first know or think that guns were walking?
Newell: Sir, in this investigation, to the best of my knowledge we didn’t let guns walk from that perspective.
And so it went over and over.
On that question of “gun walking,” especially involving a straw buyer allowed to violate multiple gun laws in the purchase of 730 civilian AK variants, Chairman Issa pushed Newell to come clean:
“So from day one you had a straw purchaser with no credit, no means of support, buying hundreds of weapons, providing them to his intermediary … You had an individual who could be charged with his participation on the actual trafficking of weapons. You had somebody who was trafficking specifically for the intent of getting it to the drug cartels providing huge amounts of money.”
Issa pressed on: “It seems like you knowingly allowed these weapons to get out of your control, knowingly to someone you knew was trafficking into Mexico. You saw the results. You allowed it to continue, and now you’re telling us, ‘We don’t let guns walk.’
“Well, I’ve got to tell you, before this investigation ends, I’ve got to have somebody in your position or at Justice admit you knowingly let guns walk, because right now your agents, both the agents here today from Mexico and the agents that were part of Phoenix and part of this program who became whistleblowers, had told us you were letting guns walk.
“It’s only you and Mr. McMahon and other people at Justice who continue to come before this committee and say, ‘We don’t let guns walk.’ Are they lying or are you lying?”
Newell replied, mumbling, “Sir, in this investigation it is my opinion that we did not let guns walk.”
Chairman Issa snapped back, “You’re entitled to your opinion, not to your facts.”
If the elevation of McMahon was an in-your-face insult to Congress and to anyone deeply concerned about the rogue nature of the Obama/Holder Justice Department, the DOJ’s chief prosecutor in Phoenix doubled the insult to an unspeakably low level by slapping down the family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke—another major figure in the scandal who encouraged, expanded and oversaw the deadly gun-walking scheme—opposed what should have been a routine request to qualify the murdered agent’s family members as crime victims, thereby entitling them to testify at the sentencing of the illegal gun buyer who acquired the “Fast and Furious” guns found at the scene of Terry’s murder. Burke’s claim that the family members are not “directly or proximately harmed,” and that the victim of the illegal gun buys “is not any particular person, but society in general,” was a grievous insult.
But no less grievous an insult as the one the Obama administration, through its Justice Department, has foisted on Congress and the American people by its continuous attempts to confuse and cover up the facts—facts that show it intentionally allowed guns to go to Mexican drug cartels to further fuel its desire to pass more gun control laws here in the United States.
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