The House Judiciary Committee opened a formal probe Wednesday into whether Attorney General Eric Holder perjured himself in May 15 testimony before the committee regarding the Justice Department’s surveillance of reporters.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.), chairman of the investigations subcommittee, pressed the nation’s top lawyer for answers on how he could simultaneously be unaware of potential prosecution of members of the press and personally approve investigations into those same reporters in a letter sent Wednesday.
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The national press has pilloried the Justice Department following revelations that the agency secretly obtained phone logs and emails from the Associated Press and Fox News Channel reporter James Rosen.
"Whether you personally approved the search warrant request or were merely part of ‘discussions’ relating to a search warrant for Mr. Rosen’s emails, it is clear now that you were aware that the Department was engaged in a criminal investigation of a member of the media as far back as 2010," the committee wrote.
At issue is testimony Holder gave under oath before the House Judiciary Committee, during which he said he had no involvement in the Justice Department’s sweeping surveillance of news organizations.
"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," Holder told the committee.
News outlets later reported Holder personally approved a search warrant labeling Rosen as a co-conspirator in a national security leak investigation.
"How can you claim to have never been involved in the potential prosecution of a member of the media but you were admittedly involved in discussions regarding Mr. Rosen’s email?" the letter continued. "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?"
The letter also asks for all policies and memos from the Justice Department on issuing subpoenas to news outlets.
The Department of Justice did not return a request for comment.