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Forum Post: Holder - did he lie ? you be the judge

Posted 10 months ago on May 30, 2013, 3:48 p.m. EST by bensdad (8977)
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FIVE things you must understand
about the controversy surrounding AG Eric Holder
By Tom Cohen Wed May 29, 2013
Lawmakers probe whether Holder lied

{ the question & answer is in blue below}

Washington (CNN) -- Attorney General Eric Holder, a perpetual political lightning rod for Republican critics of the Obama administration, is under fire for two cases involving secret subpoenas or searches for phone records and other information of journalists involved in reports about leaked classified information.

ONE: What's the problem?

In the first case, the Justice Department last year obtained two months of phone records for reporters and editors at The Associated Press as part of a probe that the news service said was focused on its account of a foiled plot to bomb a U.S. airliner in May 2012.
In the investigation of leaks to the AP, employees of the news service were never singled out as potential criminals.

The second case involves subpoenas and search warrants in 2010 to obtain phone records, e-mails and security badge tracking of a Fox News correspondent who reported on classified intelligence about North Korea in 2009.

Members of the press and critics led by Republican foes of Holder complained the covert surveillance amounted to targeting journalists as potential criminals, which would chill investigative reporting and potentially violate First Amendment rights of a free press.
However, the affidavit for a search warrant in the Fox case included an FBI agent's statement that a network reporter -- later identified as James Rosen -- could potentially be an "aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator" to the crime of disclosing secret information. Justice Department officials confirmed that Holder took part in "discussions" about seeking the search warrant.

Holder and the Justice Department did not prosecute Rosen, nor did it file charges against him. While he was listed as a "co-conspirator," that does not mean he would definitely be considered a target.

Obama’s administration has been more aggressive in probing classified leaks than those of his predecessors, but Obama said he was "troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable."

TWO: What are the latest developments?

On Wednesday, the GOP leaders of the House Judiciary Committee sent Holder a letter asking for further information about whether he lied to Congress when he said at a May 15 hearing that he never took part in any "potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material." [ of Fox’s Rosen ]

Holder said: "... That is not something that I have ever been involved in, heard or, or would think would be wise policy"
in response to questioning by Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia on the possible use of the Espionage Act to prosecute members of the news media for publishing classified information.

The letter to Holder from committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin noted that the affidavit for the search warrant for Rosen's phone, e-mail and security badge information only became public after the May 15 hearing.

The key issue: They then questioned whether Holder's response to Johnson's question amounted to lying under oath because of subsequent media reports that the Justice Department confirmed Holder took part in discussions on seeking a search warrant.

"How can you claim to have never even heard of' the potential prosecution of the press but were, at a minimum, involved in discussions regarding Mr. Rosen?" asked the letter by Goodlatte and Sensenbrenner.

While Holder was asked about the AP case at the May 15 committee hearing, the issue of the Fox reporter never came up.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that no prosecution ever took place in the Fox case, and therefore it was "self-evident" that any charge Holder lied to the House panel was "inaccurate."

Implying that Republicans were playing politics { do they do anything else?} , Carney said reporters should "be careful not to conflate facts with statements by members of Congress about what they want to be true." Pressed further, he added that reporters were "conflating a subpoena with prosecution." {Why should this invented “scandal” be different from the dozens of others invented by the republicans?}

On Tuesday, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said Holder "was forthright and did not mislead the committee" on May 15.
"Certainly, there are policy disagreements as to how the First Amendment should apply to these series of leak investigations being conducted by the Justice Department and that is and should be an area for the committee to consider," Conyers said in a statement. "However, there is no need to turn a policy disagreement into allegations of misconduct." {unless, of course, if you do not want to deal with creating jobs, or not raising taxes on the 1%, or repealing the ACA}

THREE. What's the background?

With an eye toward the 2014 congressional elections and the 2016 presidential campaign, Republicans are trying to depict the Obama administration as rife with scandals.

These include the two cases involving Holder as well as IRS targeting of 501c4 conservative groups claiming not to be political and erroneous talking points about the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack. The IRS official in charge of embattled unit takes the 5th as her attorney insisted she do because congress advised her that she was under investigation by the FBI.
Co-chair of Benghazi review agrees to congressional interview

In particular, conservative Republicans have taken aim at Holder over efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility, a decision to stop enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act, and the handling of the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-walking program.
At the same time, Holder has been praised by Obama and liberals for taking a lead role on socially progressive issues such as gay marriage and immigration.

Last year, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa of California led a GOP effort to cite Holder for contempt of Congress in a dispute over documents the panel sought in the "Fast and Furious" investigation. Issa and other Republicans said Holder refused to turn over requested documents necessary for a full inquiry of the program in which federal agents allowed illegal weapons sales across the border with Mexico, then lost track of the firearms. Holder maintained the House contempt vote boycotted by most Democrats amounted to political theater, and he recently criticized Issa for what he called a pattern of incomplete or misleading statements.

"It is inappropriate and it is too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of Congress," Holder said at the May 15 hearing of the judiciary panel that includes Issa. "It is unacceptable and it is shameful."

FOUR. What does Holder have to say?

At the May 15 hearing, Holder testified under oath that he had recused himself from the AP case because he had previously been questioned regarding who knew what about the classified leak. Therefore, he said, he had no role in last year's decision by Deputy Attorney General James Cole to seek the secret subpoena of AP phone records.

Holder has yet to comment specifically on Rosen's case. On Tuesday, he told reporters he was "not satisfied" with some federal guidelines on how prosecutors conduct leak investigations involving reporters. "We're going to have a real frank, good conversation about this," Holder said. "And I think, we're going to make some changes because I'm not satisfied with where we are."

FIVE. What happens now?

There will be more congressional hearings and investigations, more political rancor and witch hunting and the possibility of some fallout if further disclosures reveal Holder knowingly misled Congress or inappropriately concealed information.

His defiance in the face of the House contempt citation indicates Holder won't voluntarily step down unless pressured to do so by Obama, who has steadfastly maintained confidence in him.

The question will be whether Holder becomes a liability for the president.

If the multiple controversies (IRS targeting, Benghazi, reporters phone records) continue to dominate the political discussion, Obama could decide a drastic gesture is needed to try to move past a climate of crises. However, nothing at this point suggests that is imminent or under consideration.
{Of course, with the Senate required to confirm a new AG, Issa & McConnel are supporting Pat Robertson & Torquemada & John Mitchell & Alberto & Harriet Meyers & Robert Bork }

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