Republicans expressed satisfaction Thursday at news Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, the top Justice Department figure who had knowledge of the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-walking operation, is resigning.
“He knew about reckless tactics, failed to take seriously allegations that they were continuing, and only owned up to his failures once they were publicly exposed,” said House oversight committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, who led a months-long investigation into the botched operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Mr. Breuer, who runs the Justice Department’s criminal division, will become the highest-ranking person involved with the operation to step down. The Washington Post reported his resignation on Wednesday.
The Post said no date for his resignation has been given.
Mr. Breuer’s knowledge of the Fast and Furious operation has been at the center of the controversy. An inspector general’s report said Mr. Breuer knew of some of the operation’s tactics but failed to inform either the attorney general or deputy attorney general. But the IG also said Mr. Breuer didn’t authorize gun-walking, nor was he aware ATF agents were letting guns be trafficked into Mexico in 2009 and 2010, when Operation Fast and Furious was at its zenith.
“Had Breuer taken any action whatsoever, Fast and Furious would have ended eight months sooner than it did. This resignation paves the way for needed new leadership in the Criminal Division,” Mr. Issa said.
His resignation follows those of two other top officials — an acting deputy attorney general and a deputy assistant attorney general — who were also criticized by the inspector general for their role in the botched operation, which saw ATF agents knowingly allow guns to be trafficked into Mexico in order to try to trace their sales. Two of those weapons later turned up at the scene of a shootout between Border Patrol agents and bandits that left Agent Brian Terry dead.