House Republicans have asked the White House to appoint a special counsel to determine whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied during his testimony about a botched gun-trafficking operation, Fox News reports.
Documents obtained by CBS News show that Holder knew about the operation, dubbed "Operation Fast And Furious," as early as July 2010, which would contradict his testimony in May of this year, during which he said, "I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks."
A Justice Department official told The Huffington Post that the attorney general "has consistently said he became aware of the questionable tactics in early 2011 when ATF agents first raised them publicly, and then promptly asked the IG to investigate the matter."
He went on to say that the attorney general did not know the specifics of the program, "The weekly reports (100 + pages) are provided to the office of the AG and (deputy attorney general) each week from approximately 24 offices and components. These are routine reports that provide general overviews and status updates on issues, policies, cases and investigations from offices and components across the country. None of these reports referenced the controversial tactics of that allowed guns to cross the border."
CNN reports that a Justice Department source says the report of an investigation is "wildly off base."
"Operation Fast And Furious" was a failed sting instituted by the Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in 2009. The program's intent was to allow suspected criminals to buy weapons, then track the firearms to Mexican criminal organizations, in hopes of building a larger case.
Instead, hundreds of the powerful weapons went untracked, and many were later recovered at grisly crime scenes in Mexico. Guns connected to the program were also found at the murder scene of U.S. border patrol agent in 2010.
Some Republicans reacted swiftly to news of the possible investigation. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform who has spearheaded the program's investigation, tweeted, "What Holder ACTUALLY knew about Fast and Furious" with a link to The Drudge Report, which touted the story. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) tweeted, “What part of Q, ‘When did you first know about the program known as Fast and Furious?’ didn't AG Holder understand?”