NOW with Alex Wagner | June 19, 2012
>>> these types of operations actually started under the bush administration and the bush administration did nothing about it. although they knew about it. when eric holder found out about these tactics, he immediately stopped it. he said no, we're not going to have this.
>> that was congressman elijah cummings today on " morning joe " talking about the investigation into the doj's fast and furious program, not to be confused of course with the six-part vin diesel hollywood blockbuster. the investigation has pitted darrell issa against attorney general eric holder . last week, issa threatened holder with a contempt of congress vote, saying the attorney general is refusing to hand over documents. the two are meeting this afternoon at 5:00 p.m . while the contempt hearing is still scheduled for tomorrow. really interesting back and forth over eric holder , who is a man, we talk about the catbird seat, he is the man, sort of the face of a lot of controversial positions the administration has taken. whether that's arizona immigration, whether that's voting i.d. laws, whether that is the fast and furious program. we heard what elijah cummings had to say. i want to play some sound of joe walsh just about an hour ago on msnbc talking, responding to elijah cummings . let's hear what he had to say.
>> the bush administration cooperated with the mexican government . they let the mexican government know what they were doing. they traced the guns. fast and furious , our government under this administration purposely turned the other way and stopped tracing thousands of firearms so this is a much bigger, a much more serious breach of justice.
>> glenn, is this -- where do you land? is this much ado about nothing? is this all part of an effort to undermine eric holder , his position in the administration ? is this a legitimate concern? the talk of conspiracy theories , the talk of this administration trying to use this whole thing as a pawn to have greater gun control . what do you make of it?
>> i think the only answer to this is the appointment of several special counsel with unlimited subpoena power. [ speaking simultaneously ]
>> that could feed your show for years.
>> i think chairman issa would be more than willing to have that accommodation. look, what are we, in june? i don't even know the month.
>> i don't know the day so we're fine.
>> where the sense that this is heating up in the middle of a campaign is obvious. things -- there are answers that have not come out from doj in terms of who knew what and when. it is clear doj was slow-walking congress on this but the notion this has to involve some sort of constitutional confrontation at this particular moment in time seems a little bit far-fetched.
>> congress' rep is so intact. people love them right now. why not.
>> if they can hold administration officials in contempt they can't be called a do-nothing congress.
>> i thought this was -- let's play representative john mica on fox talking about this, giving credence to the conspiracy notion theory.
>> people forget how all this started. this administration is a gun control administration . they tried to put the violence in mexico on the blame of the united states so they concocted this scheme and actually sending our federal agents sending guns down there and trying to cook some little deal to say that we've got to get more guns under control.
>> i love that like this is a gun control administration as if that's like the worst thing you could possibly be.
>> first off, full disclosure , my wife has worked in the department of justice on fast and furious matters so i have to put that out there.
>> thank you for the disclosure.
>> i appreciate that. secondly, it's insane to suggest this is a gun control administration . they have done virtually nothing. in light of massive gun violence episodes, including gabby giffords . that is pure black helicopter stuff right there.
>> to say nothing of the fact that maybe being a gun control administration , if they were a gun control administration , would be a good thing.
>> i think we can quibble over whether if the bush program was the same as the obama program and what were the differences, but clearly, i think clearly the people in the department of justice weren't operating out of some malicious back door attempt to get some legislative outcome in the united states . i think it's utterly silly and sort of ruins the whole point of the debate.
>> also, lives were lost in this, too.
>> a federal agent in order to get support for gun control --
>> that is the implication of his remark and it's sort of offensive.
>> it's preposterous.
>> it's actively offensive. i do want to talk about a little bit dial it back to eric holder and his role. because we know just from the book "in killer capture" they talk about the difficult role, the justice department and the role of the attorney general is a strange one because you are at one serving an administration but you are not supposed to be explicitly political, and that eric holder has a certain amount of difficult things on his plate right now in 2010 , there was rumor that he might have left the white house but valerie jarrett intervened and said this wouldn't be good for us, specifically wouldn't be good for your friend the president, and he said on. but certainly, this stuff doesn't exactly encourage, i would imagine, is not the kind of stuff that makes you want to go to work every day.
>> well, i have actually heard different about holder. i've heard that that report about jarrett wasn't necessarily accurate and that he very much, if there's a second term, would like to stay on. i'm not sure that the administration would feel exactly the same way about it. but this is a guy who has not shied away from controversy and he clearly has an agenda that at times has seemed more progressive than the president's, much to his dismay.
>> they haven't always been on the same page. it started very early with the trial of khalid shaikh mohammed and that was a big rift that developed between the white house and department of justice . holder takes a lot of spears for this administration and we all think of it as him acting sort of off the script but in some respects it probably helps him out. he's the one out in the forefront while they can do things in the background.
>> you see why robert kennedy was his brother's a.g. that relationship is so key, you want somebody who has your back and who is listening to you.
>> if you were to tell the white house right after the midterm elections in 2010 that the biggest congressional investigation a year and a half later, the house republicans had going on against you was eric holder , solyndra is off the table, it really hasn't been able to get much, his talons in much else. the white house can handle the holder thing. there are worse things that could have happened that never happened.
>> fast and furious , not the hollywood blockbuster, nor a political blockbuster, as perhaps darrell issa would have wanted it.