Department of Justice official Patrick Cunningham has reportedly planned to plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid incriminating himself in response to a subpoena House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa served him that will compel him to appear before Congress about Operation Fast and Furious.
Cunningham has been the chief of the criminal division of the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office in Phoenix for the past two years. In subpoenaing Cunningham, Issa said he has information indicating Cunningham helped approve gun walking as an acceptable tactic under the Obama administration’s DOJ.
Cunningham, according to Issa, has repeatedly refused to testify before Congress about Fast and Furious. Now that he’s been subpoenaed and announced that he’ll plead the Fifth Amendment, this signals the first time an official in President Barack Obama’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice has refused to testify over Operation Fast and Furious on the basis that he or she may admit to committing a crime.
Issa said that Cunningham’s plan to plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid incriminating himself over his role in Operation Fast and Furious is a sign that there’s serious politically-motivated foul play going on within 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. “The former head of the ATF has previously told the committee that the Justice Department is managing its response to Operation Fast and Furious in a manner designed to protect its political appointees. 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.”
Issa adds that this latest development suggests that President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder may be complicit in covering up Fast and Furious information and documents, preventing Congress from getting to the truth.