Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, was cleared of all implications from the Fast and Furious scandal Wednesday. The Justice Department official appointed by President Obama had been accused of having prior knowledge of a botched gunrunning operation.
Eric Holder's innocence- or at least ignorance of the operation- was proclaimed by the Justice Department's Inspector General Michael Horowitz. His year-long investigation found that subordinates in the Office of the Attorney General did know of Fast and Furious, but that Holder did not.
"We found no evidence that Department or ATF staff informed Holder about Operation Fast and Furious prior to 2011," read the Inspector General's report. "Our investigation did not identify evidence that contradicted Holder's statements to us regarding his knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious and the use of 'gun walking' tactics in that investigation."
Holder had been lambasted by various Republican politicians for what they saw as hiding information from Congress and others seeking inquiries into Fast and Furious. President Obama's intervention- he used executive privilege to withhold 74,000 documents from Congressional investigators in June- only heightened the scrutiny surrounding Holder and the DOJ's role in the operation. Now that he has been cleared of wrongdoing, the Attorney General is essentially saying "I told you so."
"The key conclusions (of Horowitz's report) are consistent with what I, and other Justice Department officials, have said for many months now," Holder said in a statement. "The leadership of the Department did not know about or authorize the use of the flawed strategy and tactics; and the Department's leadership did not attempt to cover up information or mislead Congress about it."
Others are being held accountable for the gunrunning operation that led to an American life- U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry- being taken. Kenneth Melson, the former Acting Director at ATF is retiring, as well as Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein. Finally, officials from ATF and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona are also being reviewed.
Despite the findings, some are still unsatisfied with the consensus that Holder was vindicated. Operation Fast and Furious was a debacle, with ATF agents encouraging the sale of arms to Mexican cartels in hopes to arrest higher-ups. It didn't work at all; only small-timers were arrested, and two of the guns were found where Border Patrol Agent Terry was killed.
"It's time for President Obama to step in and provide accountability for officials at both the Department of Justice and ATF who failed to do their jobs," Rep. Darrel Issa, one of the first Republicans to call attention to Fast and Furious, said in a statement.
Similarly, Rep. Gowdy of South Carolina felt that Attorney General Holder was anything but vindicated.
"When you lead a law firm … and people under you are being disciplined and cited for malfeasance, I don't think that's a vindication," he told CNN's Soledad O'Brien. "Is there a failure to supervise and lead within the same department?"