Attorney General Eric Holder parsed words today while testifying before Congress, claiming that “nobody at the Department of Justice has lied” about the Fast and Furious program – at least not under the “legal” definition. According to Holder, the DOJ didn’t realize it was presenting inaccurate information to Congress last February, which means nobody in the department can be accused of perjury:
Rep. James Sensenbrenner asked Holder: “Tell me what’s the difference between lying and misleading Congress, in this context?”
Holder’s response is a bit Clintonian. “Well, if you want to have this legal conversation, it all has to do with your state of mind and whether or not you had the requisite intent to come up with something that would be considered perjury or a lie,” Holder said. “The information that was provided by the February 4 letter was gleaned by the people who drafted the letter after they interacted with people who they thought were in the best position to have the information.”
The February 4 letter from Assistant Attorney General Ron Weich claimed that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms didn’t knowingly sanction the sale of assault weapons. It’s since been withdrawn by the DOJ because of “inaccuracies.”
But even if Weich didn’t realize the letter was inaccurate, other officials at the DOJ who were aware could have corrected the record. And yet that didn’t happen.
Holder’s argument may hold up legally. But it’s not one that will win him sympathy with the public. The evidence is mounting that Holder’s DOJ misled Congress, and Republicans are calling for his resignation. There doesn’t have to be a perjury conviction in order for Holder to lose his job.
Video of Holder’s comments below: