It was already known that he was going to plead the fifth to avoid self incrimination. Yesterday, Patrick Cunningham, the chief of the criminal division of the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona, was excused from a deposition after refusing to give more than his name and title, Fox News reports:
Cunningham informed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee through his attorney that he would use the Fifth Amendment protection after being subpoenaed last week to testify in front of congressional investigators regarding his role in the operation that sent more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa drug cartel. Guns from the failed operation were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in 2010.Committee Chairman Darrell Issa called the decision a “startling development” and in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that the refusal to testify implies that “Mr. Cunningham may have engaged in criminal conduct with respect to Fast and Furious is a major escalation of the department’s culpability.”
Issa said Justice Department officials claim Cunningham misinformed them about Fast and Furious as the department prepared its initial response to Congress’ inquiry into the failed program. Cunningham’s lawyer denies those allegations.
Cunningham was excused from the deposition, but may be called again later, according to the letter. The committee may also issue additional requests or subpoenas for Cunningham’s associates in the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Holder is scheduled to testify in front of the committee on February 2, 2012.
Rep. Trey Gowdy on Cunningham Refusing to Testify on Fast and Furious:
Ginny Simone talks to Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) – NRA News – January 23, 2012 – http://www.NRANews.com – http://www.NRANews.com:
Lots of dissatisfaction with the ultra slow pace of the IG investigation, which at some point, Gowdy seems to hint may need to be investigated, itself:
Linked by Doug Ross, Daily Pundit, and AoSHQ thanks!
AWR Hawkins at Big Government on the State of AZ’s decision to launch its own investigation of Fast and Furious. Citizens want answers and they’re not getting them from the federal government.
David Codrea, Gun Rights Examiner: What have been effects of politics and new media on ‘Gunwalker’?
I believe what is ultimately called for is a truly independent counsel–not one reporting to DOJ, as current law provides, because that can create a fox/henhouse situation, and we’ve already seen many indications of the current OIG investigation being politically limited and compromised–which means Congress needs to re-up the office that expired in 1999. That will be the test of whether or not they have been effective, in my opinion.
In re new media, I believe Gunwalker is a milestone of sorts, because it truly is a major story that had to be brought to the networks and newspapers, and they still resist reporting on it at all, let alone not embedding their reporting with their own agenda. I believe it shows the monolith press is no longer the sole gatekeeper for information, as the internet has given us a way to bypass them. I’ve documented time and again how Mike and I have beaten them, with all their resources, to the punch, and also how they have acted more like collaborators than journalists.
Issa’s committee is investigating the gargantuan scandal of ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ that now engulfs the Holder Justice Department and much of the Obama Administration.
However, if appearances are to be trusted, it would seem that other than Issa’s letter, the response of the committee to the scandal of late has been characterized by inaction, thus begging the question, “Is the fix in?”
This very question was asked this afternoon by investigative reporter Mike Vanderboegh after being told yesterday that the Issa committee would have a major announcement today, and after having a chance to take a look at what, exactly, Issa and the committee did to put teeth to the letter Issa sent to Holder.
The answer? Not much.
I’m not a constitutional lawyer, not a lawyer of any kind, but it’s my understanding that Cunningham can be given immunity and remove the ability to “plead the fifth” because he won’t have any legal culpability (unless he perjures that testimony.)
Seems to me that would be the way to go, if Issa knows the real rats are at the top, not in the field.
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“Cunningham can be given immunity and remove the ability to “plead the fifth” ”
Could, but then he could testify that all the fault was his own and no one else and shield anyone higher from taking any blame and not take any himself since he has immunity. You only give immunity when you know someone is willing to give up something bigger.
It’s my understanding that the granting of Congressional immunity requires some majority vote of the House–Issa can’t issue immunity on his own. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it would require herding 200+ cats into alignment.
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That’s why I prefaced it with “I’m not a lawyer,” but also why I said I thought immunity would be relinquished if perjury could be proven, so if Issa knows and can prove, what does he have to lose by giving immunity?
And I’m pretty certain Cunningham doesn’t know if Issa has the goods or not, so he could perjure himself and end up at a fed country club for a while, for all he knows.
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