Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday. The disclosure of the attorney general’s role came as President Barack Obama, in a major speech on his counterterrorism policy, said Holder had agreed to review Justice Department guidelines governing investigations that involve journalists.
“I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable,” Obama said. “Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.”
If this is accurate, Holder has no choice now but to resign. He engaged in a practice, if the president is to be believed, that the president disagreed with and is in contravention of Justice Department guidelines on surveillance of the media. As many mainstream media figures and legal experts have noted, he appeared to attempt to “criminalize journalism.” Moreover, it is impossible for him to investigate DOJ practices that he participated in.
It really is as simple as that. But, Rubin, notes, he's also in potential trouble for his own behavior in the James Rosen and Associated Press scandals.
The affidavit going after Rosen asserted that Justice had exhausted all means to get material from Rosen “because of [Rosen's] own potential criminal liability in this matter,” and asking for the documents voluntarily would compromise the integrity of the investigation. That same affidavit also laughably claims that Rosen might mask his identity or try to flee the country. So did Holder intentionally mislead a judge by signing off on that affidavit? Worth looking into, at least.
Secondly, Rubin says, Holder testified unbelievably that he'd recused himself from the AP investigation but had no recollection for when that happened and no evidence to substantiate his claim that he recused himself. That should be investigated, at the very least.
Holder frankly should have more concern about prosecution than Lois Lerner (who took the 5th and was put on administrative leave). But that will be his problem — after he leaves office, as he now must. He acted in ways supposedly contrary to the president’s direction, without informing him and in a manner that called into question the president’s and the DOJ’s integrity and respect for the rule of law.
Is there any defense for why Holder should stay?