I have picked up on a strange report about Jason “Main Justice” Weinstein, whose appearances in subpoenaed documents brackets Department of Justice involvement Fast & Furious. Weinstein first appears in a September 9, 2009 email to Lanny “Deep in the Cheese” Breuer, which discusses ATF and DOJ coordination of gun trafficking investigations. It ends with an analytical review, now claimed to be the subject of executive privilege, ordered by Breuer, sometime after February 4, 2011. On that date, the DOJ provided a letter to Congress, drafted in part by Weinstein, which falsely claimed that ATF made “every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”
The post February 4, 2011 talking points are that the ATF and Patrick Cunningham, the Chief of the Criminal Division for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona, dove into gunwalking as an ill-conceived investigative technique, without the knowledge of Eric Holder or the President. This theme emerged from the highest source as early as March 22, 2011, when Barak Obama declared:
There have been problems, you know. I heard on the news about this story that — Fast and Furious, where allegedly guns were being run into Mexico, and ATF knew about it, but didn’t apprehend those who had sent it. Eric Holder has — the attorney general has been very clear that he knew nothing about this.
We know, you know, this narrative is highly suspect. Lanny Breuer is the Assistant Attorney General that heads up the DOJ Criminal Division. He reports directly to Eric Holder. Mr. Breuer met with ATF Deputy Director Billy Hoover and ATF Assistant Director for Field Operations Mark Chait on Jan. 5, 2010, the same day the ATF delivered a report detailing all of the weapons that could be linked to known Fast & Furious straw purchasers, who bought 685 guns in less than two months, many of which were recovered in Mexico. Soon after that, ATF sought and received approval that Fast and Furious was to become an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) case. From that point on, Main Justice was intimately involved with all aspects of the investigation.
I find a Greta Van Susteren interview with Congressman Jason Chaffetz to be strange, because of something that seemed new. In the interview, Congressman Chaffetz discussed that “both homeland security and the Department of Justice” appeared to scramble after they learned of the death of Brian Terry in December 2010 and the death of Immigration Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata on February 16, 2011. Evidence of the scramble, the congressman states, was:
Jason Weinstein goes down to Phoenix and gives a glowing report of the ATF, but only later then in August to try to rescind all the glowing comments.
This sparked my interest, because a Weinstein trip to Phoenix does not appear in the 64 page May 12 Committee Memorandum.
On the other hand, the Memorandum states that the Lanny Breuer ordered a Weinstein analytical review, which came to include an interview with Arizona U.S. Attorney Patrick Cunningham. We also know that the Committee first sought a Mr. Cunningham interview in the summer 2011, around the time Weinstein, according to Chaffetz, “rescinded” glowing comments about Fast & Furious.
When it came time to appear for his committee interview, Cunningham retained his own attorney, rather than rely upon counsel provided by the DOJ. To me, this means that Cunningham’s legal interests became adverse to the legal interests of the DOJ. Thereafter, Cunningham asserted his 5th Amendment rights, with a statement from his attorney that, “If as you claim that Department officials have blamed my client, they have blamed him unfairly.” On January 27, 2012, Cunningham left the Department of Justice.
The topics discussed between Weinstein and Cunningham in Phoenix little doubt revolved around the content of Cunningham’s communications with Main Justice, before the DOJ published its false February 4, 2011 letter. It also seems that DOJ changed its tune quite a bit, after Weinstein's trip to Phoenix. Yet, Mr. Cunningham cannot ethically or legally disclose what he said to Main Justice until, at a minimum, a civil court pierces executive privilege. If executive privilege is Cunningham's only issue, this might be the first thread Congress pulls, to see whether it all unravels.
Update - Senator Chuck Grassley wrote a letter today to Eric Holder asking for for information about a memo from an ATF special agent that:
- provided DOJ officials important information about what, in fact, was happening in Operation Fast and Furious;
- traveled rapidly through the chain of command at ATF and was allegedly forwarded to DOJ headquarters on February 3, 2011, and;
- caused such a stir that ATF planned to put a panel together to address the allegations but someone within DOJ suppressed it.
Update, for any who think Jason Weinstein was not the go to guy at Main Justice: "We have gathered together today, from many agencies and from two countries with a shared border, to take another step forward to accomplish a single mission-to develop and implement creative and effective solutions to the challenges we face in prosecuting firearms trafficking cases."
Jason Weinstein, September 26, 2009, Northern Border Firearms Trafficking Conference - Phoenix, September 23, 2009, 8:30 a.m.