Photo: Casey Research
The Los Angeles Times reports that Kenneth Melson, the embattled director the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms will announce he is stepping down today, after coming under fire for his role in the gun smuggling scandal that is roiling the U.S. Department of Justice.Under Melson, the ATF launched Operation Fast and Furious, a gunrunning program through which agents allowed thousands of guns to “walk” across the border into the hands of Mexico’s powerful drug cartels.
An investigation into the operation by the House Oversight Committee found that Melson was regularly briefed on the operation and on occasion even live-streamed the gun purchases.
Melson has been cooperating with the House investigation, and, until today, had indicated that he would not step down. In a letter sent last month, the congressmen overseeing the investigation warned U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder not to make Melson the “fall guy” as retribution for Melson’s cooperation.
Sources at the DOJ told CBS that Melson will likely not leave DOJ entirely, but be transferred to another position at the Washington headquarters.
His move is among a number of senior staff shakeups related to Operation Fast and Furious. Earlier this month, three ATF supervisors of the program were reassigned to new positions. CBS reports that the Assistant U.S. Attorney in Phoenix, who helped oversee the case, is expected to be transferred out of the Criminal Division to the Civil Division.
UPDATE: The DOJ announced today Melson will step down tomorrow become a senior advisor on forensic science in the Office of Legal Policy. U.S. Attorney Todd Jones of the District of Minnesota has been named the acting director of the ATF.
UPDATE 2: Talking Points Memo reports that the Assistant U.S. Attorney in Phoenix, Dennis Burke, has submitted his letter of resignation to President Obama.
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