A top official in the US Attorney's Office District of Arizona says he is innocent, but he will not testify in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesday next week.
Patrick Cunningham, who serves as the Chief of the Criminal Division, received a subpoena to appear in front of the committee, to answer questions about his role in the controversial ATF Fast and Furious case.
According to a letter addressed to Issa and signed by Cunningham's attorney, Tobin Romero, Cunningham will be exercising his "constitutional privilege not to be compelled to be a witness against himself."
Romero continued, "my client is, in fact, innocent, but he has been ensnared by the unfortunate circumstances in which he now stands between two branches of government. I will therefore be instructing him to assert his constitutional privilege."
In response, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa issued his own statement:
"The assertion of the Fifth Amendment by a senior Justice official is a significant indictment of the Department's integrity in Operation Fast and Furious," he said.
"The former head of the ATF has previously told the committee that the Justice Department is managing its response to Operation Fast and Furious in a manner designed to protect its political appointees. This is the first time anyone has asserted their Fifth Amendment right in this investigation and heightens concerns that Justice Department's motivation for refusing to hand over subpoenaed materials is a desire to shield responsible officials from criminal charges and other embarrassment."
THE CASE HISTORY
In June, the ABC15 Investigators revealed documents showing guns connected to the Fast and Furious case turned up at drug-related crime scenes, including "large-scale" marijuana trafficking operations in Phoenix and Glendale.
The ABC15 Investigators also linked an additional 43 weapons , recovered during a Phoenix DEA traffic stop, to the case.