"I'm going to assume this was some little-brain, lot of balls idea coming out of the ATF's local office. Couple of guys going renegade, not running things through the chain of command, like their acting director, Ken Melson, he didn't know," Stewart said, before airing clips discussing the video feed Melson had set up in his office so he could watch the straw buys take place at cooperating gun dealerships.
"You're baiting me. So the head of the ATF didn't just know about this plan, he's Tivoing it," Stewart said.
After airing a clip of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) holding up copies of heavily redacted documents turned over by the Justice Department, Stewart cued up a "graphics filter" to show what the DOJ was hiding: a cartoon hand giving Issa the middle finger.
Separately, the Washington Post reported that Issa was briefed on the Fast and Furious program last spring but didn't raise any objections to it.
An email obtained by TPM shows that ATF special agent David Booth asked George Gillett for a half page synopsis of the Fast and Furious program for a classified briefing Director Melson was giving to members of the Oversight Committee.
A source familiar with the meeting told TPM that the Fast and Furious program was briefed in great detail, including cooperation with gun dealerships.
Frederick R. Hill, a spokesman for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, accused opponents of the committee's investigation of "incredulously trying to assert that Obama administration political appointees at the Justice Department were ignorant -- yet Congress was in the know on the details of Operation Fast and Furious.''
"This irresponsible and false accusation is indicative of a Justice Department bereft of leadership and rattled by the revelations of its own misconduct,'' Hill told the newspaper.