Sen. Ted Cruz blasted one nominee for associate attorney general Wednesday for his participation in a Department of Justice scheme called “Operation Choke Point,” a program that resulted in alleged attempts to run businesses the Obama administration deems undesirable into failure.
The Texas Republican firebrand hammered the nominee, Stuart Delery, at Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for his approval of the initiative in which DOJ lawyers intimidated banks into cutting off financial services to businesses such as gun manufacturers and dealers.
The GOP presidential hopeful noted that he himself is an alumnus of the Department of Justice.
“The Department of Justice has a long and bipartisan tradition of staying out of politics, of defending the law and the Constitution, and not acting simply as a partisan arm of whatever president happens to be in the White House,” he began.
But things changed when President Barack Obama came into power.
“I believe the Department ofJustice has violated that tradition of staying out of politics, and indeed, I think it’s been worse,” Cruz said. “The Department of Justice has an obligation to defend the Constitution, and instead, this Justice Department, instead of defending the Constitution, has consistently violated the Constitutional rights of American citizens,” and “ has treated the Bill of Rights, unfortunately, with contempt.”
Then Cruz got to specifics. He established that Delery gave his approval to the scheme that ultimately undermined the DOJ’s integrity.
“The object of Operation Choke Point was to cut off the lines of credit … to lawful small businesses,” he said, before asking Delery what legal authority he used to drive lawful sellers of firearms and ammunition out of business.
Delany claimed the scheme wasn’t meant to target lawful businesses, but rather to go after “fraud in the payment system.”
Cruz cut him off.
“On the list of high risk activities, ammunition sales and firearm sales are included,” Cruz said. “Is there any indication that ammunition sales and firearm sales constitute fraud?”
Delery continued to claim that lawful firearm dealers weren’t targeted, despite that they’re included in to DOJ memo of high risk activities.
Throughout the exchange, Cruz remained firm and resolute, while Delery’s voice could occasionally be heard cracking.
Despite evidence to the contrary, Delery claimed that “none of our cases involved firearms dealers of any kind.”
“Choke Point was all about using government power to intimidate banks to cut off [businesses’] money even though they weren’t violating the law,” Cruz said.
The scheme “wasn’t targeted on evidence of fraud. This was targeted based on an antipathy of the Obama Justice Department to the exercise of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms by American citizens.”
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