Kevin O’Reilly a White House National Security Staff who regularly communicated about Operation Fast and Furious with the Arizona-based ATF agent responsible for running the operation that allowed guns to flow to Mexican drug cartels, was suddenly transferred out of the White House and into Iraq in July 2011.
Since then, the White House has declined to allow O’Reilly to be interviewed either by the committee or by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who conducted the administration’s internal investigation of Fast and Furious. The White House also refused to give the inspector general access to internal White House communications relating to Fast and Furious.
In Sept. 20 testimony before the Oversight Committee, Horowitz said that the White House’s refusal to let O’Reilly speak and to provide the IG’s office with access to relevant internal White House communications “made it impossible” to “pursue that aspect of the case.”
In a letter they sent to O’Reilly’s attorney last Thursday, House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned that Issa would subpoena O’Reilly if he did not agree to testify.
“We have been trying to arrange to speak with your client, Kevin O’Reilly, for nearly a year now,” Issa and Grassley wrote. “Earlier this year, you agreed to make O’Reilly available for an interview if the White House authorized his participation. The White House, where O’Reilly worked during the pendency of Operation Fast and Furious, refused to make him available, citing ‘an insufficient basis to support the request.”
“If O’Reilly chooses to continue to make himself unavailable, Chairman Issa will have no further alternative but to use compulsory process to require his testimony before the committee,” they wrote.
“O’Reilly’s personal lawyer has represented to the Committee that he would permit his client to speak to the Committee in the absence of any objection from the White House.”
In their letter to O’Reilly’s attorney on Thursday, Issa and Grassley said that without getting O’Reilly’s story it would be impossible to determine the role that the White House played in Fast and Furious.
“By not interviewing O’Reilly, the OIG could not fully determine the role the White House played in Fast and Furious,” Issa and Grassley wrote. “Given that O’Reilly was the link connecting the White House to the scandal, and that the President subsequently asserted executive privilege over documents pertaining to Fast and Furious, it is imperative that the American people get to the bottom of O’Reilly’s involvement in Fast and Furious.
“To do this,” Issa and Grassley said, “Congress must speak with O’Reilly directly.”
The letter indicates that while O’Reilly was working at the White House he communicated for more than half a year about Fast and Furious with ATF Special Agent in Charge William Newell, who was in charge of the operation for the ATF in Arizona.
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