The Justice Department has turned over more than 64,000 pages of documents congressional lawmakers were seeking as part of their investigation into the botched gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious.
The material was handed over to the House Oversight and Government Reform panel late Monday in what aides describe as an election eve “dump.”
In total, 64,280 pages arrived on Capitol Hill — all material that had been withheld from Congress by President Obama, who used executive privilege to keep the information from lawmakers.
House Republicans, who led the charge to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over the documents, sued for their release, and a judge agreed with the GOP.
“Last night’s production is an admission that the Justice Department never had legitimate grounds to withhold these documents in the first place,” Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said. “Approximately two-thirds of the universe of documents that the Justice Department withheld from Congress has now been shown to be well outside the scope of executive privilege.”
Issa said Republicans will keep fighting for the release of additional Fast and Furious documents.
Issa added that the pages turned over Monday include heavy redactions that could be “inappropriate and contrary to the judge’s order in the case.”
The Fast and Furious program ran from 2006 to 2011 out of an Arizona division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It involved U.S. agents selling guns to Mexican drug traffickers in an effort to trace the weapons to the drug cartels. But agents lost track of the weapons and some of them were used to kill people, including U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.