Rep. Joe Walsh joins Republicans in calling for Eric Holder’s resignation

Marshall Cohen

U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), the Tea Party supporter who represents the congressional district directly northwest of Evanston, joined a group of House Republicans on Tuesday to demand the immediate resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder.

Walsh and his Republican colleagues criticized “Operation Fast and Furious,” an Obama administration program that let suspected straw buyers in the southern United States walk away with more than 2,000 weapons bought on behalf of Mexican drug cartels.

The administration hoped to build a stronger case for future prosecutions by allowing the weapons purchases to occur uninterrupted and let the guns make their way into the hands of gangsters in Mexico.

However, nearly all of the guns dropped off the grid. Furthermore, two assault rifles involved in the program were found at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed during a firefight in December near the Arizona border.

“His own president says this was a mistaken program,” Walsh said at a press conference Tuesday. “It was flawed in its concept and was very botched in its implementation, and Holder needs to be held accountable for that.”

Earlier this month, Walsh sent a letter directly to Holder asking for his resignation. After receiving no response, he decided this week to circulate a letter among House colleagues asking President Barack Obama to request Holder’s immediate resignation.

“In intentionally letting over 2,000 firearms ‘walk’ across the border into Mexico, the [ATF] – ­under the leadership of Attorney General Holder ­­- carried out an operation that left a U.S. Border Patrol agent dead, broke federal law and attempted to build a case for gun control,” according to the letter.

Walsh spokeswoman Ashley Helms told The Daily on Wednesday that Walsh was “on track” to send the letter to Obama by the end of this week.

“I know he has been working all day today getting signatures,” Helms said.

Holder has pushed back against the criticism, stating at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week that many of the accusations are “inaccurate and frankly irresponsible.” He has also fired the low-level staffers that originally tried to ward off criticism over his role in the mishandled gun-trafficking operation.

Jeff Smith, a board member of the Democratic Party of Evanston, said Walsh is “obviously making political moves” and said he doesn’t think Holder should step down. Smith is currently petitioning to appear on the ballot for the soon-to-be-vacated Illinois 17th district house seat.

“It is ironic to have a loose cannon to call for a resignation on the pretext of insufficient oversight over guns,” Smith said.”Joe Walsh is running for re-election and has some problems of his own that he needs to distract from.”

Still, Smith said he did have reservations about the “Fast and Furious” sting operation.

“Certainly in hindsight, it seems like there was some mistaken judgment with potentially fatal consequences, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the agency chief made the direct decisions,” Smith said. “If you’ve ever worked in government, you know that higher-ups have to rely on what they are told by their staff.”

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