The next day, Republicans issued their report that included a section entitled: “Jason Weinstein Knew About Illegal Activity Yet Failed to Stop It.” The report focused on Weinstein’s role in preparing the Feb. 4, 2011, letter to Congress and his review of the wiretap applications.
The report concluded that given what Weinstein knew about the earlier Operation Wide Receiver, he should have raised similar concerns about Fast and Furious. Both operations, the report noted, had been run by Bill Newell, the head of ATF’s Phoenix office.
“Jason Weinstein didn’t just mess up an opportunity to stop Fast and Furious,” said Frederick Hill, a spokesman for the committee. “He bought hook, line and sinker everything the people down in Arizona who had been running this operation wanted to feed him.”
At the same time, the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, was conducting his review of Fast and Furious. For 15 hours over two days last May, Weinstein answered questions from investigators. He was told that he was not a subject of the investigation, but he said he left the interviews with an unsettled feeling.
The inspector general’s report
When he typed Ctl+F in his office on the second floor of main Justice that day in August, his name came up so many times that he lost count. He didn’t sleep well that night, even worse than usual for the father of three young children.
By 7 the next morning, he had e-mailed his old boss, Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general who had hired Weinstein in the 1990s, to represent him. Together, they would wage a campaign to try to clear Weinstein’s name.
Weinstein assembled a 32-page refutation of the IG report’s characterization of his role, responsibilities and motivations.
In his formal response to Horowitz, Bromwich wrote that Weinstein was being held to an “impossible standard.” He said Weinstein could not possibly have connected the dots between the two cases because he was repeatedly assured by the people closest to the Fast and Furious investigation, including ATF’s McMahon, that no guns had “walked.”
To do so, Bromwich wrote, would have required an “ability to divine that McMahon was unintentionally conveying inaccurate information about Fast and Furious.”
None of the three deputies who signed off on Fast and Furious wiretap applications saw anything that raised concerns. And the specific numbers of guns mentioned did not necessarily indicate gun-walking, Weinstein told the IG.
“No one could read those summaries and know that they let guns go,” Weinstein said.
In helping draft what turned out to be an inaccurate response to Congress, Weinstein said he had no reason to doubt the people telling him that guns had not walked.