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Judiciary GOP: DOJ Defense of Holder Testimony Proof That He’s ‘Hiding from the Truth’

Goodlatte and Sensenbrenner asked attorney general to explain May 15 statements to committee on reporter probes; what they got today was "insulting."

Bridget Johnson


June 3, 2013 - 6:06 pm

Leading Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee received an “insulting” response from the Justice Department in response to their inquiry about whether Attorney General Eric Holder perjured himself before their panel last month.

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) asked Holder last Wednesday to explain the investigation of reporters in light of testimony he delivered at a May 15 oversight hearing.

In response to a question from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) about using the Espionage Act to prosecute members of the media for publishing classified material, Holder replied, “Well, I would say this: With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something that I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be a wise policy.”

“You’ve got a long way to go to try to prosecute people — the press for the publication of that material,” Holder asserted.

Goodlatte and Sensenbrenner asked Holder to reply by Wednesday to a lengthy list of questions about the search warrant for Fox News reporter James Rosen’s email, including details about DoJ regulations and attorney general approval for probing journalists’ communications and why Rosen was referred to as a “co-conspirator.”

“If you believe, as you testified, that prosecutions of members of the media ‘have not fared well in American history,’ why did you permit the Department to investigate Mr. Rosen as a co-conspirator or aider/abettor?” the lawmakers asked.

Peter J. Kadzik, principal deputy assistant attorney general, fired back a letter today affirming “the Attorney General was consulted and approved the application for the search warrant during the course of the investigation.”

“Ultimately, as you know, although a Grand Jury has charged a government employee with the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, prosecutors have not pursued charges against the reporter,” Kadzik continued. “The Attorney General’s testimony before the Committee on May 15, 2013, with respect to the Department’s prosecutions of the unauthorized disclosure of classified information was accurate and consistent with these facts. As the Attorney General explained, these prosecutions focus on those who ‘break their oath and put the American people at risk, not reporters who gather this information.’”

Sensenbrenner declared that the two-and-a-half-page response from the DoJ is proof that Holder “is hiding from the truth.”

For starters, the congressman says, the department notes that President Obama “has directed the Attorney General to conduct a review of Department policies regarding investigations involving the media” when the attorney general shouldn’t be in charge of investigating himself.

“The Attorney General has initiated a dialogue with news media representatives” proclaimed the DoJ response, when the meeting was off-the-record and boycotted by many media organizations including the Associated Press.

“[Eric Holder] supports media shield legislation currently under consideration by the Senate,” it continued. That bill was promoted by the White House to cover itself in the wake of the scandal erupting from the seizure of AP phone records. The legislation also likely wouldn’t have protected Rosen or the AP, Sensenbrenner pointed out.

Regarding Kadzik’s assertion that Holder’s May 15 testimony was “accurate and consistent” with the facts, Sensenbrenner said “only a building full of lawyers can split hairs so finely to argue the Department’s investigation of Rosen did not rise to the level of a potential prosecution.”

“Every first-year law student understands the difference between an investigation and a prosecution, but if the Department’s broad and open-ended warrant of Rosen’s emails was not part of a potential prosecution, then the Department has no regard for the First or Fourth Amendments,” the congressman said.

Goodlatte said the response “raises more questions than it answers.”

“By having a subordinate send this response rather than Attorney General Holder himself, this response begs the question of whether Holder has something to hide. Discrepancies in Attorney General Holder’s congressional testimony made on the record need to be corrected on the record to Congress by Attorney General Holder himself,” the chairman said.

Goodlatte said the Wednesday deadline is still in effect as the committee “anxiously awaits” a response from Holder, not an underling.

“Attorney General Holder still has yet to respond to our letter. He can’t outsource the responsibility for his actions to lower level staff—the buck stops with him. The American people and Congress deserve answers and accountability from Attorney General Holder.”

Sensenbrenner stressed that he’s “not motivated by partisanship, but by truth.”

“As former chairman and 35-year veteran of the House Judiciary Committee, I’ve sought answers to tough questions from both Republican and Democrat-appointed cabinet members,” the Wisconsin Republican continued. “…And once again, Eric Holder is hiding from the truth.”

“In lieu of a genuine response, he tasked Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik with drafting a defense,” Sensenbrenner said. “This is insulting and further proof that the buck doesn’t stop with Attorney General Holder. Not only did the letter come from a low-level staffer at DOJ, not Holder himself, it fails to answer the questions raised by his misleading testimony.”

“…Congress and the American people deserve an explanation, on the record, from Attorney General Holder. It is clear Eric Holder is dodging accountability and the truth. He is unfit to lead the Department of Justice.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at today’s daily briefing that Obama and his team “believe that the attorney general has the intellect, experience, and integrity to efficiently run the Department of Justice and not get distracted by the partisans who seem more interested in launching political attacks than cooperating with him to protect the security and constitutional rights of the American people.”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said he’s with Goodlatte in not crossing the line to calling Holder’s actions perjury just yet.

“I’m going right to the line. He certainly misled Congress. Perjury is very finely tuned crime, has to be looked at very carefully,” King said on Fox today.

“This is the attorney general of the United States, and before he is accused of perjury everything should be done to make sure it is done the right way if any kind of charges are required, but again, at the very least, Eric Holder misled Congress,” he added. “He failed to fulfill his obligation when the attorney general should do, and that is be honest with Congress. Whether or not it rises to the level of a felony, again that remains to be seen seen.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also carefully tread around the question of perjury, saying Holder “should ask himself whether he’s really effectively serving the president of the United States.”

“But clearly there have been some contradictory statements, and the press understandably, should be concerned about what we have found about their tactics,” McCain said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), expressing frustration about the administration’s continued deflection of the scandals, was asked on Fox today if there’s anything GOP lawmakers can do better returning from the Memorial Day recess.

“I would call Eric Holder back and say, ‘Now tell us again what you did with James Rosen.’ I would subpoena every survivor in Benghazi and challenge the administration to make them available to the Congress for oversight purposes, and I would call the lady back that look the Fifth Amendment and try to find out what the hell she did,” he said in reference to Lois Lerner, who led the IRS’ tax-exempt division.

“We know nothing about these three scandals and Democrats are trying to make us to be the bad guys,” Graham continued. “I’ve done nothing wrong. Darrell Issa has nothing wrong. He didn’t go before the Congress and say he was uninvolved when he was.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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Scooter Libby went to jail for forgetting a fact about something that had nothing to do with his case and misstating something about it. Holder has out and out lied on multiple occasions to Congress and the American people. He should be in jail just like Libby. Libby made a mistake. Holder lied on purpose.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have said it before,& I will say it again!
If the guilty parties in the different Government offices don't go to jail & are merely fired,than all these hearings are just lousy theatre.Will the Republicans pull the plug or will they just play along with the Byzantine intrigue known as Washington politics?

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
and from where I sit, they aren't even being fired, they are going on leave, with pay.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Accurate and consistent with the facts"
I want the truth on this to out drip,drip,drip, then dribble, then torrent.
And I don't want Barky to fire this clown, I want him to defend him.....again, and again, and again. And then I want Dione, and Blow, and Dowd, and Williams, and all the other Marxist A$$ hat columnists for the Dem party to defend him and tell us again and again that it's understandable, that it's not really a scandal, and that it's not as bad as Watergate.
Again and again.
Same for Benghazi, same for IRS, same for all the other examples of Obumbles employment of the government cudgel against his "enemies".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
''The Attorney General has initiated a dialogue with news media representatives” proclaimed the DoJ
...which just about sums it all up. Our huddled elites are reduced to spin.
The thread by which they all dangle can't hold up for long. What would the Founders have said?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Of course the response to the inquiry was insulting. When you convince your opponent that no matter what he does you will do nothing but talk, and in very mild tones at that, you deserve to be insulted over and over. The GOP, yes, even the so-called bulldogs in the party, are toothless and mild. The most they ever threaten The Left with is similar to a mark in their permanent school record.

What have they done about Fast & Furious, illegal recess appointments, and about 15 other impeachable offenses? The GOP is too weak or to lazy to defend anyone's rights. A party serious about stopping Obama would not leave Mithc McConnell and John Boehner in charge of anything.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The past tense of "tread" is "trod," not "tread."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Holder, and the rest of the One's crew reminds of CAIR. If you say anything bad about us, or our god, we are going to force you to Lawyer up. Which will cost your millions.

I bet half a pay check the Justice Department, and the IRS, have been working together to attack Honorable Americans. How long is their list? Who is next?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
During the GWB administration, the Dems with their usual demagoguery made two decent attorney generals resign for far, far less egregious, non-criminal reasons. Eric Holder repeatedly lied and violated the law with impunity, and cynically hangs on as attorney general. What makes him and the administration think that he is "privileged" to be above the law? If Holder doesn't have the decency to resign, and those above him don't have the balls to fire him, then it is up to the investgating committee to make the case for him to have to step down the sooner the better and quit playing these disgusting political games!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You mean the investigating committees that have done nothing about Fast & Furious and illegal recess appointments? How many times does the GOP have to fail to do their job before people stop hoping "this time it will be different."

The GOP says it knew about the IRS before the last election and they did zilch until the IRS IG released a report. The GOP isn't up to the challenge. They always find a way to oopsie when it counts. They say a stopped clock is right twice a day. The GOP somehow manages to never ever capitalize on Obama's outrages. Wouldn't they at least accidentally do the right thing if they were trying? They aren't trying.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama has appointed Eric Holder to investigate...Eric Holder. Based upon his findings, Eric Holder has found that Eric Holder did not need to respond to questions from Congress. Eric Holder found that Eric Holder's testimony was consistent with Eric Holder's oath to tell the truth. And Eric Holder had some underling say as not to compound any growing 5th Amendment problems for this administration.

In other news, Jay Smarmy leaked some more oil today. The "Ooze of News" press secretary's oily and slippery ways continue to grease the skids of this scandalicious Red Torrent of Totalitarianism.

Lois Lerner couldn't find her Clark Kent to save her at the Daily Plant-it...the newspaper that prints only what the administration tells it to in secret, off the record meetings. There are some who believe this administration's headaches have officials not just taking the fifth, but also drinking it and pollishing it off in large swigs.

The good news is...OFA is hiring. Although, it is using a different name in the classifieds. The Witness Un-Protection Program.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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