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Justice Department Official Involved in Coverup Would Be Exempted from Senate Confirmation Scrutiny

Today, House Republicans got a royal “drop dead” from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich.

Weich had earlier written Congress to deny wrongdoing by BATF in connection with allegations that it was intentionally allowing firearms to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. This Justice Department denial by Weich turned out to be false.

Weich had also refused to respond to repeated congressional demands for documents, and documents which he did provide were frequently nothing more than jet-black pieces of paper.

At the committee hearing, Weich told Chairman Darrell Issa and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he would continue to withhold documents from Congress. He also refused to answer questions from committee members such as Utah’s Jason Chaffetz and South Carolina’s Trey Gowdy.

Why is this important?

Well, I suppose it’s important that a federal official obstinately and arrogantly engages in a cover-up concerning bureaucratic misbehavior which resulted in pervasive criminal activity and the deaths of federal agents.

But it is important for another reason:

The Senate is about to consider “bipartisan” legislation which would exempt Weich and his successors in the job of Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs from Senate confirmation.

Is it important that the federal official (in this and other departments) responsible for telling Congress what documents it can or can’t review be approved with the “advice and consent” of the Senate?

Apparently, Republican Senator Sue Collins, a sponsor of the legislation, has concluded that it isn’t.

But let me say this: If Mitch McConnell and his Senate Republicans screw up again and allow these cover-up specialists to escape Senate confirmation scrutiny, it is time to consider new leadership.

by Michael E. Hammond, former General Counsel Senate Steering Committee 1978-89.

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