Federal official in Arizona to plead the fifth and not answer
questions on 'furious'
By William La Jeunesse
Published January 20, 2012
The chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in
Arizona is refusing to testify before Congress regarding Operation
Fast and Furious, the federal gun-running scandal that sent U.S.
weapons to Mexico.
Patrick J. Cunningham informed the House Oversight Committee late
Thursday through his attorney that he will use the Fifth Amendment
Cunningham was ordered Wednesday to appear before Chairman Darrell
Issa and the House Oversight Committee regarding his role in the
operation that sent more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa Cartel. Guns
from the failed operation were found at the murder scene of Border
Agent Brian Terry.
January 25, 2011: A cache of seized weapons used in the ATF gun-
running operation 'Fast and Furious' is displayed at a news
conference in Phoenix.
The letter from Cunningham's Washington DC attorney stunned
congressional staff. Last week, Cunningham, the second highest
ranking U.S. Attorney in Arizona, was scheduled to appear before
Issa's committee voluntarily. Then, he declined and Issa issued a
Cunningham is represented by Tobin Romero of Williams and Connolly
who is a specialist in white collar crime. In the letter, he suggests
witnesses from the Department of Justice in Washington, who have
spoken in support of Attorney General Eric Holder, are wrong or lying.
"Department of Justice officials have reported to the Committee that
my client relayed inaccurate information to the Department upon which
it relied in preparing its initial response to Congress. If, as you
claim, Department officials have blamed my client, they have blamed
him unfairly," the letter to Issa says.
Romero claims Cunningham did nothing wrong and acted in good faith,
but the Department of Justice in Washington is making him the fall
guy, claiming he failed to accurately provide the Oversight Committee
with information on the execution of Fast and Furious.
"To avoid needless preparation by the Committee and its staff for a
deposition next week, I am writing to advise you that my client is
going to assert his constitutional privilege not to be compelled to
be a witness against himself." Romero told Issa.
This schism is the first big break in what has been a unified front
in the government's defense of itself in the gun-running scandal.
Cunningham claims he is a victim of a conflict between two branches
of government and will not be compelled to be a witnesses against
himself, and make a statement that could be later used by a grand
jury or special prosecutor to indict him on criminal charges.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/01/20/federal-