A senior aide to Attorney General Eric Holder, late Friday afternoon, called his buddies on the Democratic staff of the House Oversight Committee. He shared a scheme to release only part of the information the committee’s chairman wants from the Justice Department. And then he realized: he had dialed the wrong number.
Details of the wrong number call
The call, according to Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), came in at 5:01 p.m. Friday, September 5. A junior employee picked up the phone and said, simply, “Hello, Oversight Press.” Not “Office of Congressman Issa.” Not “Oversight Majority Press.” Oh, no. Simply “Oversight Press.”
The caller was Brian Fallon. He now works for General Holder, according to Breitbart. He used to work for Senator Charles M. Schumer (D-N.Y.). Everyone on Capitol Hill knows who this man is.The account by Chairman Issa gets confusing here. According to it, Fallon asked by name for a senior officer on the communications staff for Issa’s committee. That officer took the call on speakerphone; he had two other men in his office.How could Fallon not have known he was talking to Republicans, not Democrats? But he then asked them to do something weird. This concerned “a letter and documents” about Andrew Strelka, who used to work for Lois Lerner at the IRS Exempt Organizations Office in Cincinnati. Fallon said the Office of Legislative Affairs would not let him release that material straight to the media. But he wanted the Committee’s help in leaking it to interested reporters. Why? So the Justice Department could get its story straight with them before the Republicans could see it.Naturally the senior press officer thought this strange. So he asked Fallon to send him an e-mail about it.Fallon put him on hold. For three solid minutes.And when he got back on the line, the press officer could tell: Fallon sounded “shaken.” Fallon then launched into what Issa called a “circuitous monologue.” Meaning: Fallon had just stepped in it. He knew it. And he then tried to fast-talk his way out of it.
Read the full particulars here:
Chairman Issa, as this letter shows, is more than befuddled. He is thoroughly angry. He sent the above letter directly to General Holder and to Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
In plain English, Issa said he now can prove what he knew all the time. Namely that Eric Holder, Elijah Cummings, and the men who work for each man, have been in cahoots the whole time, to diddle Issa and the Oversight Committee. Issa accused them flatly of trying to mess with a Congressional investigation. He as much as asked what kind of Attorney General Holder was. He reminded Holder that for decades the Executive branch shares information equally with both sides of a Congressional committee. Now Holder seems to throw all that out the window.
Nor is Issa buying Fallon’s fast-talk that he just wanted his office and the Committee to work together better. Because that’s not how Fallon acted before putting the call on hold. Of course, Fallon went on hold after the press officer balked at doing what Fallon asked. (And Fallon could only have wanted the Democratic press officers to leak information early to friendly reporters.) Why else would Fallon call two people he never spoke to before, a minute after five on a Friday afternoon, after District Work Hours? Why else, except to serve the goal he set out when he first called?
Issa wants an explanation, and now. He wants to know how many times anyone working for Eric Holder has talked to Democratic, but not Republican, employees of the Committee, and exactly what everybody said. Issa gave Holder until five o’clock Monday afternoon on the 15th.
In closing, Issa reminded Holder that his committee can at “any time” investigate “any matter.” Maybe Issa was reminding Holder he had every authority to investigate Lois Lerner, Andrew Strelka, and the rest of it. Or he might also have threatened to investigate Holder for this latest shenanigans.
Holder plays politics
Mr. Fallon said in writing there was nothing weird or wrong with the Justice Department talking to those who work for both Parties’ delegations to a Congressional committee. But that’s not what he did, and Fallon knows it. Issa makes this point: there is something wrong, and maybe illegal, about a Justice Department aide talking to one side and not the other.
Fallon knows better than this. So does Holder.
Issa now needs to “think outside the box.” He should move at once to impeach Holder over this. And while he’s at it, he should throw Elijah Cummings off his committee. Furthermore, he should complain about this fiasco to the House Ethics Committee.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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