While House Republicans gear up to grill Attorney General Eric Holder about what-he-knew-when about ATF’s botched Operation Fast and Furious at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, the White House is signaling they’re standing by the nation’s top law enforcement officer. “As the President has made clear, he believes Eric Holder is an excellent Attorney General who has his full confidence,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement to TPM on Wednesday. . . On Wednesday, Grassley called on Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who heads DOJ’s Criminal Division, to step down because he knew of the Bush-era “gun walking” even though DOJ denied in a Feb. 4, 2011 letter that ATF would ever walk guns. A Justice Department spokeswoman said Holder is standing by Breuer. “Assistant Attorney General Breuer has acknowledged his mistake in not making - and therefore not alerting Department leadership to - a connection between the allegations made about Operation Fast and Furious and the unacceptable tactics used years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver,” Tracy Schmaler said in a statement. “He has acknowledged that mistake to Congress and to the Attorney General, who continues to have confidence in Assistant Attorney General’s Breuer ability to lead the Criminal Division.” Holder has accused politicians of playing “gotcha” games, called Fast and Furious “flawed in concept, as well as in execution” and accused Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller of being “behind” the calls for his resignation because they’ve been running a nearly daily tally of Republican congressman who have asked for him to step down. According to the Daily Caller’s count, 52 Republican members of Congress and two Republican Senators are calling on Holder to step down, though there’s been no evidence presented so far that shows he knew about the tactics used in Fast and Furious before whistleblowers went public (he also doesn’t recall hearing about the existence of the operation itself, though some weekly briefings documents addressed to him mention it in passing). The GOP presidential field has also entered the fray, with four of them (Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann and Jon Huntsman) calling for him to step aside. The latest signal from the White House: ain’t gonna happen. “The Attorney General has said repeatedly that fighting criminal activity along the Southwest Border - including the illegal trafficking of guns to Mexico has been and is a top priority of the Department,” Schultz said in a statement to TPM. “The Attorney General has also made clear that he takes the allegations that have been raised about the operation very seriously and that is why he asked the Inspector General to investigate the matter and directed the issuance of policy guidance clarifying DOJ policy against gunwalking.”So Holder stands behind Breuer and Obama stands behind Holder. Yeah, okay, but whose fly is open and whose pants are down around his ankles? On Capitol Hill Wednesday, Sipsey Street can report that these rumors swirled: 1. Holder would resign that day to avoid the hearing; 2. Holder would hold out until the traditional bad news day of Friday to cash in with a "voluntary resignation" that had been demanded by an increasingly nervous White House; 3. Breuer would leave instead of Holder to see if they could save the AG; 4. Holder would desperately cling to his office while firing Breuer; 5. And, last night, that the White House would cling to Holder at Justice because they need him there to maintain the fiction that they still control events because: a. They rest of the rats would desert the Titanic if they thought it was a "save yourselves" moment -- that is, that Holder leaving would be a breaking-of-the-dam moment and the entire truth would flood out as conspirators sought their own deals; or, b. Obama is incapable of admitting error and Holder is being kept on board despite the best contrary political advice (and some of this from high roller donors) that he is getting to try to stanch the bleeding with the re-election coming up. Another source said of Obama's reported pledge to Holder: "Yeah, right. That's what they say just before they throw you under the bus." It is important, the source noted, that the denial did not come from White House press secretary Jay Carney, but rather from scandal deflection expert Schultz. "If they meant it," he said, "Carney would have said it." The hearing, of course, is today. I'll be there early with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.