WASHINGTON — A key Republican lawmaker released a draft resolution Thursday accusing US Attorney General Eric Holder of contempt of Congress for allegedly failing to cooperate with a probe into a botched government effort to track arms flows into Mexico.
Darrell Issa, head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that last year probed the arms scandal, said the Justice Department as a whole was guilty of refusing to cooperate with congressional investigations of the Operation Fast and Furious, but singled out Holder.
Holder has faced Republican calls for his resignation and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), a division of the Justice Department, has been in the spotlight since the failure of the program, originally intended to build cases against Mexican gang members.
From 2009 to 2010, ATF agents knowingly allowed cartels to purchase about 2,000 assault weapons in the United States, and then sought to trace those weapons to crime scenes in Mexico.
But most of the weapons were never traced, while two of them showed up at the scene of the murder of a US border patrol agent, which led to the program's suspension.
Issa said the draft resolution and an accompanying briefing paper describes "the Justice Department's refusal to cooperate -- including the hardships the family of a fallen Border Patrol agent have faced in seeking the truth, and retaliation against agents who blew the whistle on gunwalking."
Holder denies knowing anything about the operation before February 2011.
A vote has not yet been scheduled on the resolution.