Obama says those responsible for Fast and Furious have been held accountable
President Barack Obama found himself in the hot seat over Operation Fast and Furious on Thursday afternoon at a townhall co-hosted by Spanish language television station Univision and Facebook.
At the town hall, which played on Univision and livestreamed on facebook, Obama was hammered by audience members, as well as Al Punto host and town hall moderator Jorge Ramos, about the disastrous plot by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to allow firearms dealers to knowingly sell guns to buyers affiliated with the Mexican drug cartels with the hope that guns, which were being tracked, would eventually lead them to the heads of the cartels. The process, known as straw buying, is a felony in the United States, but was allowed for the purposed of the operation. The guns involved in the ATF’s “gun walking scandal” were found at crime scenes on the U.S.-Mexican border. Additionally, the irresponsible plan resulted in the death of border patrol agent Brian Terry, who was killed with of the guns.
At the Univision and Facebook town hall Obama was initially asked if Attorney General Eric Holder should be fired over Fast and Furious.
Obama said Holder ended the operation as soon as he found out about it, referencing a report released by Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general Wednesday absolving DOJ department head Eric Holder of any wrongdoing in the operation and throwing the blame solely on the ATF and other DOJ staffers for the very public scandal for which held Holder was held in contempt of Congress for in July.
“We assigned an inspector general to do a thorough report, which was just issued, confirming in fact that Eric Holder did not know about this, that he took prompt action,” Obama said in Holder’s defense. “The people who did initiate this were held accountable. I will tell you that Eric Holder has my complete confidence because he has shown himself to be willing to hold accountable those who took these actions and is passionate about making sure that we’re preventing guns from getting into the wrong hands.”
Likewise, Obama falsely claimed almost all of the documents related to Fast and Furious had been released and tried to blame his predecessor President George. W. Bush’s administration for the scandal, even though the program did not begin until Bush was out of office.
After he was further pressed on the issue, the President finally admitted that he bore some responsibility, as does the AG, for Fast and Furious because it occurred under his administration’s watch, but he said he was “very confident” that a blunder like Fast and Furious would not happen again during his presidency.
“What I don’t like to see is these kinds of issues become political circuses,” Obama, added, however, seemingly attacking Republicans in Congress for making an example out of Holder by holding him in contempt. Obama also said he feels that continued focus on topics like Fast and Furious are a “distraction” from the real issues.
The town hall will air again at 10pm EST on Thursday night.