- House Republicans repeat the attorney general to step down
- Holder "failed to tell the truth" about Operation Fast and Furious, they say
- "This attorney general acted responsibly," a senior Justice Department official says
Ten conservative House Republicans renewed their demand Tuesday for Attorney General Eric Holder to step down for his handling of the fallout from a flawed gun sting operation known as Fast and Furious.
"Attorney General Holder's refusal to take responsibility for the actions of his department is inexcusable," declared Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona.
"It is clear that he is either lying or grossly incompetent. Either way he is unfit to serve the American people as the highest law enforcement officer in the land," said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho.
No Democrat participated in the news conference and none has asked for Holder to quit.
The GOP outburst on the subject, while not new, is certain to reignite a smoldering partisan debate over who is responsible for the botched gun operation, and the attorney general's role in managing the resulting firestorm. Fast and Furious was an operation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is a part of the Justice Department.
The department was quick to respond to the accusations hurled at Holder Tuesday.
"From the start, this attorney general acted responsibly and took quick steps to ensure accountability when concerns were raised about these inappropriate tactics by asking the inspector general to investigate and making sure agents and prosecutors knew such conduct violated Department of Justice policy and would not be tolerated," said a senior Justice Department official who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing investigations.
There is no sign from the Justice Department that Holder has any intention of resigning, nor that there is any mounting administration pressure for him to do so.
The Justice Department Tuesday confirmed Holder has sent a letter to the family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Terry was killed near the Mexican border last December. Two firearms sold as part of Fast and Furious which were allowed to "walk" across the border to drug cartels were found at the crime scene.
Holder was criticized at a Senate hearing last week for failing to contact the Terry family.
The attorney general faces what is expected to be a stormy hearing December 8 when he appears before a panel led by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, who is leading the congressional investigation of Fast and Furious.