Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, leads the congressional investigation into two scandals in the Obama administration. One involves Energy Department approved loans for Solyndra, a bankrupt solar power company, and another involves a Judiciary Department undercover operation called “Fast and Furious,” which sold weapons to criminals.
Issa spoke on “Fox News Sunday” about both of those investigations.
Fast and Furious
In the “Fast and Furious” program, undercover federal agents sold firearms to crime suspects. Some of those weapons were later found to have been involved in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
At a May 3 hearing, Attorney General Eric Holder told Issa that he first heard of the “Fast and Furious” program only within the last couple of weeks. Further investigation revealed that Holder had been sent briefs on the program while it was taking place.
On Friday, Holder sent a letter to Issa's committee explaining that he does not, and cannot, read every memo that he receives “cover to cover,” and “the information presented in the reports did not suggest a problem.”
“That's just disingenuous on its face,” Issa said. “Very clearly, he had to know, when Brian Terry was killed and everyone realized these were 'Fast and Furious' weapons, he had to know something serious had happened, and that's months before he said he knew.”
Holder has been invited to come before Issa's committee this week to more fully explain his position.
Issa will not ask Holder to resign. “I've always taken the tact that the president picks the people he has full confidence in,” Issa said. “The president still seems to have full confidence in Eric Holder, something I don't share.”
The main issue Issa will be investigating in the Solyndra scandal is the extent to which administration policy was shaped by some of President Obama's wealthy campaign supporters.
After it became clear that Solyndra would go bankrupt, the administration restructured the loan such that other investors would recoup losses before the federal government in bankruptcy proceedings. Some of those investors supported Obama's 2008 campaign.
Issa said the restructuring was “violation of congressional mandate.” His investigation will be to determine why there was a “breach” in “protocol,” and why the administration did “something that is strictly prohibited.”
“Was process followed? The American people have a right to expect that the rule of law will guarantee that, even if we don't like a policy, it will be done properly,” Issa said.
In part of its defense, the administration has noted that Issa himself sought a loan guarantee for a green energy company in his own district under the same program.
In response to the charge, Issa said, “There's a difference between sending in a letter for an existing pot of money that I voted against and having the ability to actually pick winners and losers, which we don't have.”
He also claimed that his letter to the Energy Department was simply asking the department to “please give them a 'yes' or 'no.'”
Presidential administrations often release potentially damaging information on Friday evening because they know it is less likely to be reported in the news. On Friday evening, the Obama administration released more documents related to the Solyndra scandal.
When asked what those documents show, Issa said, “What we're finding is, it isn't just Solyndra. It's a pattern of these sorts of investments.”