WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee could be called on as early as this week to adjudge whether Attorney General Eric Holder offered false testimony regarding his participation in a federal probe involving Fox News reporter James Rosen.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told Fox News on Friday that Holder’s insistence that he did not contribute to an investigation that included the issuance of a subpoena for Rosen’s email records appears to be contradicted by the facts.
Goodlatte said a letter has been sent to the attorney general seeking an explanation for the apparent inconsistency. Holder has until Wednesday to address the issue.
The committee will wait for Holder’s response, Goodlatte said, “before passing judgment on whether that constitutes perjury.”
On Thursday, the Justice Department issued a statement maintaining that Holder was “accurate and consistent with the facts” during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on May 15 and that he is “committed to striking a balance between protecting classified national security information and protecting the first amendment rights of journalists to gather and report the news.”
At issue is Holder’s statement about the Justice Department’s decision to obtain a search warrant for Rosen’s emails in May 2010. It was issued in the wake of a June 2009 report by Rosen that allegedly contained classified material.
The 44-page search warrant, initially obtained by The New Yorker magazine, maintained that information regarding a possible nuclear bomb test by North Korea came from Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employee. Kim was indicted in August 2010 for unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and making false statements. He has pleaded not guilty.
Rosen has never been charged.
In the affidavit in support of the search warrant, FBI Agent Reginald B. Reyes stated “there is probable cause to believe that the Reporter (Rosen) has committed a violation” of the Espionage Act “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator of Mr. Kim.”
The search warrant asked U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to issue an order prohibiting the email provider from disclosing the issuance of the search warrant to Rosen or anyone else out of concern it would endanger the life and safety of an individual, lead to a possible flight from prosecution, destruction and tampering of evidence, intimidation of potential witnesses, “or otherwise seriously jeopardize the investigation.”
The Justice Department subsequently acknowledged that the Rosen search warrant was approved “at the highest levels of the Department.” DOJ further indicated that Holder wasn’t involved in the approval process although he was involved in some discussions.
During Holder’s appearance before the committee on May 15, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) asked the attorney general about the Justice Department’s intention to use the Espionage Act to prosecute members of the media for publishing classified material, a move that media outlets and others claim would have a chilling effect on the First Amendment.
In response, Holder said, “You got a long way to go to try to prosecute people, the press, for the publication of that material. Those prosecutions have not fared well in American history.” He subsequently added, “Well, I would say this. With regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something that I have ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy.”