The House Judiciary Committee is investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied under oath during his May 15 testimony on the Justice Department’s (DOJ) surveillance of reporters, an aide close to the matter told The Hill.
The panel is looking at a statement Holder made during a back and forth with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) about whether the DOJ could prosecute 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 during the hearing.
As I and some other right-leaning journalists pointed out last week, this cannot be squared with the revelation that Holder signed off on the James Rosen search warrant.
The catch is this: If Holder never considered prosecution of journalists including Rosen, then the affidavit laying out a purported criminal case against Rosen was a ruse, a false statement under oath, directed to the court to conduct a wide-ranging dragnet. If, on the other hand, the affidavit which Holder signed off on is true in laying out the case against Rosen, then he didn’t level with Congress. In either event, he needs to come back and explain himself. If he refuses or takes the Fifth, there is no alternative but to name a special prosecutor.
Liberals scoff at the notion that Holder might be forced to resign, but if he is now a subject of further investigation, it is untenable for him to remain and preposterous for him to conduct a probe of the Justice Department as the president ordered.
Holder must be feeling the heat, for how else to explain a ludicrous puff piece in the Daily Beast waxing lyrical on the attorney general: “[S]ources close to the attorney general says he has been particularly stung by the leak controversy, in large part because his department’s—and his own—actions are at odds with his image of himself as a pragmatic lawyer with liberal instincts and a well-honed sense of balance—not unlike the president he serves.”
Oh puleez. Even worse than the ah-isn’t-he-really-a-good-guy tone throughout, are we really supposed to believe that “for Attorney General Eric Holder, the gravity of the situation didn’t fully sink in until Monday morning when he read the Post’s front-page story, sitting at his kitchen table. Quoting from the affidavit, the story detailed how agents had tracked Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department, perused his private emails, and traced the timing of his calls to the State Department security adviser suspected of leaking to him”?
Meanwhile he is in full damage control, reaching out to friendly press (“a dialogue with representatives of major media organizations”). But don’t you worry; the man is overflowing with remorse and deep in self-searching mode. (“But Holder’s own personal soul searching has already begun, with, among other things, the question of why he signed off on an affidavit that in retrospect he believed may have crossed the line.”) One wonders if the soul-searching includes his testimony to the House.
On Sunday, CBS host Bob Schieffer put it well in his counseling of the White House:
It’s reached the point that if I want to interview anyone in the administration on camera—from the lowest-level worker to a White House official—I have to go through the White House Press Office. If their chosen spokesman turns out to have no direct connection to the story of the moment—as was the case when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was sent out to explain the Benghazi episode—then that’s what we, and you the taxpayer, get, and it usually isn’t much.”
“So I am glad the president has asked the attorney general to review whether his investigations into leaks is having a chilling effect on journalists,” said Schieffer in closing. “But it shouldn’t stop there. The president needs to rethink his entire communications policy top to bottom. It is hurting his credibility and shortchanging the public. And to head the review, how about someone other than the attorney general whose department is so deeply involved? That makes no sense to me.
Indeed. The new strategy probably should leave out the weepy, woe-is-me routine and the trial balloon that he signed off on something he didn’t believe in. How does that work exactly? He sounds like a man on defense, not the attorney general. And his troubles may have only begun.
How about this for a new communications plan: No one investigates themselves. No one take the Firth. No executive privilege is asserted to protect anyone in the White House from testifying. Everyone tells the truth. And Holder goes. Otherwise it just looks like more spin and more prevarication from a White House determined to do everything but tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.