In a heated, contentious interview with PoliticsNation host Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. John Mica doubled down on his support for the outlandish conspiracy theory popular among right-wingers that the Obama administration intentionally provoked gun violence on the Mexican border to create an excuse to crack down on gun rights.
"They were trying to find a way to impose more violence and gun control in the United States," Mica, a Florida Republican, said.
The feisty back-and-forth, pegged to House Republicans' contempt proceedings against Attorney General Eric Holder, ended with each man angrily accusing the other of evading the issue.
Sharpton led off by noting recent comments made by Mica on Fox News, in which the GOP lawmaker accused the Obama administration of having "concocted" a "scheme" in which they deliberately allowed guns to fall into the hands of criminals, in order to use the resulting violence "to say that we've got to get more guns under control."
Other Republicans and their conservative backers have expressed support for that theory, which, as The Rachel Maddow Show has noted, appears to have first been promoted by a far-right blogger. Asked whether he stands by the idea, Mica said yes, telling Sharpton:
I think that they were trying to find a way to impose more violence and gun control in the United States, and blame, again, the violence and drug trafficking and the murders that were taking place in Mexico on arms from the United States that are in Mexico.
Asked again by Sharpton whether he believes that the administration deliberately concocted the Fast and Furious program in order to provoke violence, which could then be used as a pretext for gun control, Mica replied: "Absolutely. That was the purpose of it."
From there, things got ugly pretty fast. Sharpton noted that the Bush administration had launched a similar gun-running program.
"Why aren't you investigating all of the programs since they started to see if they were concocted?," he asked. "Or are you only trying to sell a conspiracy theory on this administration and this Attorney General."
Mica replied that no federal agents appear to have been killed under the Bush program. In December 2010, a Border Patrol agent was fatally shot with a gun that was traced back to the Fast and Furious program.
"Why don't you answer what I asked you?," Sharpton asked at one point.
"Your questions are just going in circles," Mica charged, later accusing Sharpton of making a "good attempt to try to blur the issue."