(Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas)
Members of Congress are investigating whether or not U.S. Attorney General Eric 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. Holder approved an FBI operation that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a probable co-conspirator in a case of leaked classified information.
A Wednesday letter to Holder by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the Committee on the Judiciary, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) asks Holder to provide answers to eight questions related to the possibility that he committed perjury.
On May 15, the letter notes, Holder was testifying before the committee and was asked whether reporters could be prosecuted for publishing classified information.
"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 answered.
Later in the same exchange on the topic, Holder added: "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."
Later that week, though, the Department of Justice confirmed that Holder approved and had "discussions" regarding the investigation that named Rosen a co-conspirator.
By naming Rosen a co-conspirator, the Justice Department was able to obtain a search warrant that allowed them to obtain his emails, phone records and his parents phone records. Two judges denied the warrant before a third judge finally approved the warrant.
"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 states.
Some of Holder's defenders claim that Holder did not commit perjury because he never intended to prosecute Rosen. If this is the case, then the search warrant that Holder approved misinformed the judge when it stated that there is "probable cause" to believe that Rosen violated the Espionage Act.
"Whether it is perjury or not, I guess it depends upon how Mr. Holder answers the questions," Sensenbrenner explained Wednesday on Fox News.
The letter asks Holder to reply to the eight questions by June 5.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney said Wednesday that he has seen the published reports and compared them to Holder's testimony and he "does not see the conflict."
President Barack Obama has ordered an investigation into the Rosen incident and the Justice Department's seizure of Associated Press phone records. Eric Holder is in charge of that investigation.