Attorney General Eric Holder is in the midst of perhaps the most serious challenge of his career over his department’s investigation of government leaks to journalists.
House Judiciary Committee are investigating whether he lied to the panel under oath, while David Axelrod — Obama’s former chief political strategist — this week called Justice’s investigation of a Fox News reporter “disturbing.” Liberal pundit Bill Press said Holder should resign.
Veteran communications director, Brian Fallon, as his chief spokesman and has initiated a series of in-person conversations with the D.C. bureau chiefs of major news outlets. At Obama’s request, he is reviewing the DOJ’s process for targeting journalists during its investigations of leaks to the media.
A story this week in the Daily Beast quoted aides as saying Holder felt “a creeping sense of personal remorse” while reading a Washington Post story about Justice’s tracking of Fox News reporter James Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department.
Holder is dealing with the fallout of two press controversies. The first involves Justice secretly subpoenaing phone records at The Associated Press over two months in a search for national security leaks. The records were for at least 20 employees. Cries that Justice was going too far escalated with the news that the DOJ had targeted Rosen as a criminal co-conspirator in its investigation of a separate government leak.
The DOJ spied on Rosen’s personal email accounts and tracked his whereabouts at the State Department building using data from his identification badge.
But the crushing blow came when the DOJ told reporters that Holder had personally signed off on the Rosen case. The revelation piqued the interest of the House Judiciary Committee’s Republican chairman, Bob Goodlatte (Va.), who promptly launched an investigation to see if Holder misled Congress under oath. Holder testified before the panel earlier this month — prior to news reports about the Rosen case — that he had not been involved in any prosecutions of reporters under the Espionage Act of 1917. “In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material — this is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy,” Holder said at the time.
“The fact that he misled Congress is irrefutable. Whether it was intentional or not is the only remaining question,” said Corallo.
“Time to go: Holder OK’d probe,” after the DOJ confirmed Holder’s personal involvement in the Rosen case. Former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann and Press, the former chairman of the California Democratic Party, have both called on Holder to resign or be fired, respectively. In the midnight hour before a successful GOP-led vote ultimately found Holder in contempt of Congress, Obama exerted executive privilege — for the first and only time — in an effort to block House Republicans from getting a series of internal DOJ communications about its false, and later retracted, congressional response to the failed gun-tracking operation, “Fast and Furious.”
Sources—jordy yager, the hill, whashington post, huffington post