ATF investigation expands to White House staffers

Today, the Congressional investigation into ATF's Fast and Furious scandal officially expanded to include White House staffers. In a letter to President Obama's National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) asked for records involving three current and former White House staffers.

The staffers are: Kevin O'Reilly, former Director of North American Affairs, National Security Council; Dan Restrepo, Special Assistant to the President, National Security Council; and Greg Gatjanis, Director for Terrorist Finance and Counternarcotics, Counterterrorism Policy, National Security Council.

The information requests were made after revelations that ATF's Special Agent in Charge of Phoenix during Fast and Furious, William Newell, "provided regular updates to Kevin O'Reilly" at the White House..."as early as the summer of 2010." The emails indicate O'Reilly asked to share information about Fast and Furious with Restrepo and Gatjanis.

In addition to the new documents request, the Congressional Republicans also requested to interview O'Reilly by the end of this month.

President Obama has said that neither he nor Justice Department head Eric Holder knew about or approved of the operation. In a statement this afternoon, an administration official told CBS News: "As has already been reported, the emails referenced in this letter affirm that no one at the White House knew about the investigative tactics being used in the operation, let alone any decision to let guns walk. To the extent that some NSS staffers were briefed on the toplines of ongoing federal efforts, so were members of Congress. The Washington Post reported that House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa received a Fast and Furious briefing in April of 2010. These types of top-line briefings would not include a discussion of the investigative tactics like gun-walking. These e-mail exchanges show nothing more than an effort to give local color to a policy initiative that was designed to give more resources to help with the border problem. They don't even contain the name "Fast and Furious" until February 2011, after the indictment was unsealed."


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    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.

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