White House ‘Made it Impossible’ to Pursue Lead in Fast and Furious Probe
September 21, 2012
The White House's refusal to release communications related to the Fast and Furious gun-walking program and the refusal of a White House official to be interviewed about the matter "made it impossible" for the inspector general (IG) of the Justice Department to "pursue that aspect of the case," the IG, Michael Horowitz, testified.
He added that the sought-after White House interview and communications constituted "a lead we wanted to follow."
At a hearing of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee on Thursday, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) asked Horowitz, "You noted also in your report that the White House refused to share internal communications with you during your investigation of Fast and Furious. We've noted a connection into the White House through Kevin O'Reilly at the National Security Council. Do you think the White House's refusal to share these documents limited the scope of your investigation? Would this committee be well served by pursuing an investigation into that avenue?"
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Horowitz answered, "Well, as we noted in the report, and as you know, congressman, we did not get internal communications from the White House and Mr. O'Reilly's unwillingness to speak to us made it impossible for us to pursue that angle of the case and the question that had been raised."
Farenthold: "So it would probably be worthwhile for us to pursue?"
Horowitz: "Well, certainly we have sought to pursue every lead we could. So, I can tell you, from our standpoint it was a lead we wanted to follow."
The report, A Review of ATF's Operation Fast and Furious and Related Matters, was released yesterday by the office of the inspector general.
Mr. O'Reilly is Kevin O'Reilly and when Fast and Furious was in operation he was a member of President Barack Obama's National Security Staff.
The IG report states, "We also sought to interview Kevin O'Reilly, an official with the White House National Security Staff, about communications he had in 2010 with Special Agent in Charge William Newell that included information about Operation Fast and Furious. O'Reilly declined through his personal counsel our request for an interview."