Ronald Weich, who is the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, will become the dean of the University of Baltimore’s school of law beginning in July. Weich signed a letter that mistakenly told lawmakers who were investigating “Operation Fast and Furious” that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not permit guns to be sold to members of cartels.
“During this time of considerable transition in legal education and the legal profession, it is important to have leadership with integrity and vision,” University of Baltimore President Robert Bogomolny said. “Ron Weich embodies those qualities. I look forward to working with him, and I know our students, faculty, staff and alumni will be energized by his arrival.”
A letter was sent to Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, by Weich on February 4, 2011 about the allegations of drug smugglers buying assault weapons. The letter was withdrawn five months ago by the Justice Department.
“At the outset, the allegation … that ATF ‘sanctioned’ or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them into Mexico — is false,” Weich wrote in the letter. “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”
Weich also sent a letter in March of this year to Grassley and House Oversight and Government Report Committee Chairman Darrel Issa, a Republican from California about reporters who allegedly were contacting the Justice Department about documents related to ‘an active criminal investigation,’ including the fast and furious case.
“While we do not know who provided these letters to reporters, we are deeply disturbed that sensitive law enforcement information contained in them has now entered the public domain,” Weich wrote. “Since we know that you share our desire to bring dangerous arms traffickers to justice, we ask that you preserve the confidentiality of sensitive law enforcement information that may come into your possession.”
When testifying in front of a House panel earlier in 2012, Eric Holder, Attorney General, said that he did not think the Justice Department was trying to mislead Congress.
“These documents show that department officials relied on information provided by supervisors from the relevant components in the best position to know the facts,” Holder told lawmakers. “In subsequent interviews with congressional investigators, these supervisors stated that they did not know at the time that the information that they provided was inaccurate.”
In June of 2011, Weich testified for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
“Every time the Justice Department sends a letter to Congress, it is true to the best of our knowledge at the time that we send it,” he said. Still, he insisted again that ATF “doesn’t sanction or approve of the transfer of weapons to Mexico.”