(Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas)
A new Rasmussen poll has found that most voters do not approve of the U.S. Justice Department's seizing of phone records of The Associated Press reporters, and 42 percent now think Attorney General Eric Holder should resign.
The national telephone survey, released by Rasmussen Reports on Friday, found that 58 percent of voters do not approve of the department's seizure of phone records from AP reporters, while 28 percent approve. And 55 percent of voters said they do not approve of the department's seizure of Fox News reporter James Rosen's phone records and e-mails, while 29 percent approve.
The survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted on May 29-30 also found that just 25 percent of likely U.S. voters have a favorable opinion of Holder, while 47 percent view him unfavorably.
Moreover, 42 percent of voters believe Holder should resign. Only 24 percent think he should stay, and 34 percent are not sure.
While 69 percent of Republicans want Holder to resign, 42 percent of Democrats want him to stay. Among independents, 43 percent said he should step down.
Holder came under fire following the Justice Department's investigation of news reporters concerning a story by AP about a foiled terror plot in Yemen last year.
The department "issued a secret subpoena for the phone toll records for 21 AP phone lines and these were phones lines for reporters, direct lines, cell phones, home phones but also the office numbers," AP CEO Gary Pruitt said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" last month. "So over 100, approximately a hundred journalists used these telephone lines as part of newsgathering and over the course of the two months of the records that they swept up, thousands upon thousands of newsgathering calls were made."
Members of Congress are investigating whether or not Holder committed perjury, or lied under oath, when he told a congressional committee that he had not heard of or been involved in the "potential prosecution" of reporters.
A letter sent last week to Holder by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the Committee on the Judiciary, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) notes that on May 15 the attorney general said while testifying before the committee, "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." Holder also said, "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."
However, later that week, the department confirmed that Holder approved and had "discussions" regarding the investigation that named Rosen a co-conspirator.
"The media reports and statements issued by the Department regarding the search warrants for Mr. Rosen's emails appear to be at odds with your sworn testimony before the committee," the letter said.
Forty percent of voters wanted Holder to resign even last June, Rasmussen had found. At the time, Holder was being criticized over the Fast and Furious investigation that allowed thousands of weapons to fall into the hands of Mexican cartels only to lose track of some of the guns later.