In an ominous development for the Obama administration, Patrick Cunningham, chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona, has told the House Oversight Committee that he will assert his privilege against self-incrimination rather than testify before the committee next week. DOJ officials in Washington evidently have blamed Cunningham for the fact that they provided false information to Congress in what appears to be an effort to cover up the Fast and Furious scandal. Cunningham’s lawyer, in a letter published here, says that blame is misplaced:
The objective evidence collected by this Committee demonstrates that Mr. Cunningham did nothing wrong and that he acted in good faith. First, Mr. Cunningham proposed draft language internally to his supervisor in the United States Attorney’s Office. Second, Mr. Cunningham vetted the accuracy of the draft language with others in the United States Attorney’s Office. Third, Mr. Cunningham’s supervisor reported that he provided the draft language to the Department of Justice. Fourth, the Department of Justice did not include in its response to Congress the draft language Mr. Cunningham’s supervisor reportedly provided.
If that is really what the documents show, it is damning to say the least. In any event, it would seem to be a bright line rule that any time a high-ranking official of the Department of Justice pleads the Fifth, a major scandal is under way.