Federal prosecutor to take 5th Amendment in Fast and Furious probe

January 20, 2012

Politico on January 20, 2012 released the following:

“By JOSH GERSTEIN

A senior federal prosecutor in Arizona intends to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights rather than testify before a House committee next week looking into the Justice Department’s handling of the Fast and Furious gunrunning investigation, the prosecutor’s attorney told Congress in a letter on Thursday.

On Wednesday, House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa issued a subpoena to Patrick Cunningham, the chief of the criminal section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona. The deposition subpoena came after a plan to have Cunningham appear for a less formal interview fell apart.

Sources say Cunningham is concerned that he’s caught in a pincer of sorts between senior Justice Department officials in Washington eager to shift blame to lower-ranking staffers and Congressional investigators eager to see heads roll over the investigation, which allegedly allowed more than 1000 weapons to cross the border into Mexico despite suspicions they were destined for drug cartels.

“Department of Justice officials have reported to the Committee that my client relayed inaccurate information to the Department upon which it relied in preparing its initial response to Congress. If, as you claim, Department officials have blamed my client, they have blamed him unfairly,” Cunningham’s personal attorney, Tobin Romero of Williams & Connolly, wrote to Issa.

“As a professional courtesy and to avoid needless preparation by the committee and its staff for a deposition next week, I am writing to advise you that my client is going to assert his constitutional privilege not to be compelled to be a witness against himself,” Romero wrote. “My client is, in fact, innocent, but he has been ensnared by the unfortunate circumstances in which he now stands between two branches of government. I will therefore be instructing him to assert his constitutional privilege.”

Issa said Friday that the Fifth Amendment claim signals serious wrongdoing at the Justice Department.

“The assertion of the fifth amendment by a senior Justice official is a significant indictment of the Department’s integrity in Operation Fast and Furious,” Issa said in a statement. “This is the first time anyone has asserted their fifth amendment right in this investigation and heightens concerns that the Justice Department’s motivation for refusing to hand over subpoenaed materials is a desire to shield responsible officials from criminal charges and other embarrassment.”

In his letter [], Romero indicates that Cunningham passed on accurate information about the investigation to his supervisor, presumably U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke who resigned last August amidst the furor over the operation. Romero says the answers to be delivered to Congress were vetted with others in Cunningham’s office but not included in DOJ’s February letter to Congress, which DOJ formally withdrew late last year because of inaccurate information it contained about so-called “gunwalking,” a technique under which law enforcement relinquishes control of weapons or fails to prevent them from falling into criminal hands.”

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Issa to press FBI for “gunwalking” info

October 17, 2011

CBS News on October 17, 2011 released the following:

“By Sharyl Attkisson

(CBS News) WASHINGTON – The head of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, said he plans to send a letter to the FBI this week to ask about apparent discrepancies in the investigation of a murder related to “Fast and Furious,” the government’s controversial “gunwalking” case, CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports.

U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down near the U.S.-Mexico border last December, and at least two assault rifles from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Fast and Furious case were found at the scene.

That focused blame on the controversial ATF operation that monitored suspects who trafficked the weapons instead of arresting them and seizing the guns.

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But 10 months after the murder, there are questions about how many weapons the FBI recovered at the scene and other key details.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, Issa, R-Calif., told moderator Bob Schieffer there’s reason to ask whether there’s a third, missing weapon.

“When agents who were at Brian Terry’s funeral made statements to his mother indicating that there were three weapons … then you look and say, well was there a third weapon at the scene?” Issa asked. “Were there additional people who escaped with weapons?”

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Also, a ballistics report turned over to Congress mentions just two rifles, saying it “could not be determined” if one of them fired the bullet that killed Terry.

There’s also talk of a third weapon, called an “SKS” rifle, in secret recordings obtained by CBS News. In the following partial transcript of a March 2011 conversation, the lead ATF case agent on Fast and Furious is speaking to a gun dealer who cooperated in selling weapons to suspects.

Gun dealer: “There’s three weapons.”
ATF agent: “There’s three weapons.”
Dealer: “I know that.”
Agent: “And yes, there’s serial numbers for all three.”
Dealer: “That is correct.”
Agent: “Two of them came from the store.”
Dealer: “I understand that.”
Agent: “There’s an SKS that I don’t think came from … Dallas or Texas or something like that.”

The FBI wouldn’t comment but has implied in the past that there was no third gun. Issa said he’s seeking clarity and that, until key questions are answered, it fuels speculation.

The FBI has kept nearly everything about Terry’s murder secret, saying that releasing anything would jeopardize their investigation, now beginning its eleventh month.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


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