Holder’s Chief of Staff, Gary Grindler, a key player in the Fast and Furious cover-up, is leaving the department this week, reports Legal Times:
Grindler, who joined the department’s Criminal Division as a deputy assistant attorney general under the leadership of Lanny Breuer in April 2009, served as the second-in-command at DOJ in 2010 after the departure of David Ogden.
Holder named Grindler—a former white-collar defense and government investigations partner at King & Spalding—chief of staff in January 2011. (Grindler, who had worked under Holder during the Clinton administration, replaced Kevin Ohlson.)
Holder said in a statement today that Grindler “has distinguished himself as an exceptional public servant, a trusted advisor, and a principled leader.”
“He has demonstrated time and again his good judgment and an ability to make the tough—and correct—decisions,” Holder said in the statement. “I cannot imagine the Department without Gary, though I wish him all the best as he considers opportunities in the private sector—and I know that his extraordinary contributions will continue to guide our efforts.”
The timing of Grindler’s decision to leave the department comes between administrations, when it’s not uncommon to see changes in federal agency leadership posts.
Rep Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee says Grindler’s departure is “long overdue”:
“Gary Grindler was appropriately faulted by his Department’s own Inspector General for keeping information about a connection between the murder of a Border Patrol Agent and a mishandled department operation away from the Attorney General and the Department of Homeland Security. His departure from the Justice Department is warranted and long overdue,” Issa said in a statement. “Other figures in Operation Fast and Furious are currently being evaluated for their conduct in the reckless effort that needlessly placed lives in danger. I expect more departures and discipline to come.”
A report on Fast and Furious from the Justice Department’s inspector general recommended disciplinary action against Grindler and 13 other officials. A report from Issa’s committee took direct aim at Grindler, accusing him of “pass[ing] the buck to underlings” and failing to take charge of the department.
Margaret Richardson, currently Grindler’s deputy, will take over his position.
How the IG has been able to determine that with certainty, and why Issa accepts it with full faith are unknown. At most, all anyone can say with assurance is they haven’t been able to prove if Grindler communicated with Holder about a program under the attorney general’s authority, where enforcers and prosecutors were up to their necks in a sanctioned operation that has produced lethal collateral consequences .
Grindler, as Gun Rights Examiner and Sipsey Street Irregulars reported in November of last year, had generated notes “including about quantities of guns bought by straw purchasers and dollars spent.” He had detailed knowledge of a program that could present grave repercussions for his boss and the administration, and everyone is supposed to conclude he just kept all that to himself based on what?
Issa’s own release, in quoting the Joint Staff Report, prepared for himself and Sen. Chuck Grassley, gives good cause to not leap to such circumstantially unsupported conclusions.
“Gary Grindler [indicated that he could ‘not recall’ or did ‘not know’] 29 times during his interview with investigators,” the release quotes from the report.
The serial stonewalling on the part of the Justice Dept resulted in a contempt of Congress citation for withholding subpoenaed documents. Moreover, the White House aided and abetted the cover-up by claiming executive privilege, so how anyone can know with any certainty what Grindler may or may not have shared with Holder is anyone’s guess at this point.
So, to sum up, according to the IG report and House investigators, Grindler kept information about Fast and Furious away from the Attorney General, passed the buck to underlings, failed to take charge of the department, and could not recall or did not know the answers to 29 of the House investigators’ questions.
He’s leaving with full retirement benefits, I presume.
Because he is what Holder considers “an exceptional public servant, a trusted advisor, and a principled leader.”
I’m surprised they’re not giving him a promotion.