Chuck Grassley Schools CNN's Soledad O’Brien over Fast and Furious

June 21st, 2012 12:56 PM

It appears as though CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien has joined the ranks in +the liberal media who argue that the GOP is engaging in a political witch hunt over the lethal Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal.  During an interview with Sen. Chuck Grassley this morning, Soledad pressed the Iowa Republican about GOP congressmen's motives behind the contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder.

O'Brien hyped Maryland Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings's charge that the the House GOP's vote for the contempt charge was purely partisan politics. O'Brien agreed, noting the partisan breakdown of the contempt vote.  [Video coming soon.  MP3 audio here.]

To O'Brien, that necessarily means, of course, that only Republicans are acting in a "partisan" manner while Democrats -- who toed their party line defense of a Democratic president's attorney general -- presumably are acting purely out love of country.

“I'm motivated to get the facts out, to make sure the law is faithfully executed, to make sure [the] Terry family gets the information, and make sure a stupid program like this never happens again," Grassley snapped.

Here's the full transcript of the segment:

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien
June 21, 2012
8:00 a.m. EDT

SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: Joining us this morning is Senator Charles Grassley. He is the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.  It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for being with us.


O'BRIEN: Speaker Boehner says he wants to see this go to the House floor next week. What do you think the chances are that this is going to be negotiated out as they usually are, these cases, or that in fact it will go to a vote?

GRASSLEY: Well, I think it's going to go to a vote. But I would very much hope that it would be negotiated out. And really all we're asking for is documents. And these documents have all been inside of the Justice Department.  We know of no presidential involvement in this. I have never accused the president of anything until just now when he puts executive privilege in. And that raises a whole bunch of questions. Has he been involved?  I have only been trying to find out who at the highest level of government in the - presumably in the Justice Department that gave approval for this so we can get them fired, make sure a stupid program that led to the murder of Brian Terry is never instituted again.  And, lastly, to make sure that the family of Brian Terry gets information which they have no information on the murder of their son at this point. And the murderer has not been arrested.

O'BRIEN: No sitting Attorney General has ever been held in contempt. Janet Reno as you well know was held in contempt in committee. And speaker at the time, Speaker Gingrich, refused to bring that to the full House. It didn't happen in Watergate.  So I guess my question would be, this is going to be precedent- setting. Do you think that this specific thing, what you just called a stupid program that resulted in the death of a border patrol agent, does it rise to that level?

GRASSLEY: Well, I think there's several respects where it rises to this level. Number one, Congress passes laws. That doesn't -- that isn't the end of Congress' involvement. We are supposed to be a check on the executive branch to see that the laws are faithfully executed.  When you're encouraging -- the government is encouraging guns to be sold illegally to people that shouldn't have them, you know the laws aren't being faithfully executed. So in order to be a check on the executive branch under our Constitution, we need this information.

O'BRIEN: Seems to I think give fodder to those like Elijah Cummings who I was talking to this morning who said this is purely partisan. Look at the vote. It was purely along partisan lines. Congress these days is viciously partisan.  Here's what he told me a little earlier this morning, sir.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: This is not about the facts. This is about politics. And anybody who looks at this knows that. The chairman had made up his mind, and this is a result that I guess he wanted. And now we see where we are.


O'BRIEN: There are lots of people besides the congressman saying that. What would you say to him?

GRASSLEY: Well, I would say to him -- he can say anything about members of the House of Representatives he wants to. But he knows me well enough in the three decades that I’ve been in the Senate, I have established a reputation for vigorous oversight. And I have probably taken on more Republican presidents of my own party than I have Democrat presidents.  So nobody can question whether or not I'm politically motivated by this. I'm motivated to get the facts out, to make sure the law is faithfully executed, to make sure Terry family gets the information, and make sure a stupid program like this never happens again.

O'BRIEN: Senator Charles Grassley joining us this morning -- he is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you very much. We certainly appreciate your time this morning.

GRASSLEY: Thank you, Soledad.