May 31st, 2013
07:48 AM ET
11 months ago

Justice Dept. says Holder didn't lie before congressional committee

(CNN) – Attorney General Eric Holder's sworn testimony before lawmakers this month was "accurate and consistent with the facts," a Justice Department spokesman stressed late Thursday.

Holder's statements at the May 15 hearing of the House Judiciary Committee have come under scrutiny from congressional Republicans, who are looking into whether the attorney general lied under oath earlier this month when he said he wasn't involved in the "potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material."

"That is not something I've ever been involved in, heard of, would think would be wise policy," Holder said at the hearing.

It has since been reported that Holder signed off on the Justice Department's decision to seek a search warrant for Fox News reporter James Rosen's private e-mails. The affidavit used to obtain that warrant said there was probable cause the reporter had broken the law when he solicited classified information from the government source.

"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," wrote Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, in a letter to Holder Wednesday.

MORE: Media execs tell Holder reporters need freedom to do their jobs

"It is imperative that the Committee, the Congress, and the American people be provided a full and accurate account of your involvement in and approval of these search warrants," read the letter from Goodlatte, who also requested Holder answer a series of questions on the matter by June 5.

An FBI affidavit used to obtain the warrant for Rosen's e-mails said there was probable cause the reporter had broken the law when he allegedly received a leaked classified report from a State Department contractor named Stephen Kim. The affidavit described Rosen as potentially being an "aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator" to the crime of disclosing government secrets, opening up criticism that the Obama administration was targeting Rosen.

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

The Justice Department official on Thursday said that prosecutors have never sought to bring criminal charges against Rosen, meaning Holder's testimony was accurate.

"The search warrant application in the Kim matter was focused on obtaining evidence relating to allegations that a government official had leaked highly classified information, which was a threat to our national security," the Justice official wrote. "The warrant application was drafted during the investigation phase of the case, which came before any decisions about prosecution. And nearly three years after completing our thorough investigation of the Kim matter, the Department does not anticipate bringing any additional charges. During the Attorney General's tenure, no reporter has ever been prosecuted."

CNN's Carol Cratty and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Eric Holder • Justice Department
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. dannyCali

    FOX NEW is Repub chanel that's why Repub said Eric Holder didn't lie because the BUS STOP with GOPer.

    May 31, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. mikemc58

    Just because Holder keeps saying he didn't lie doesn't mean he didn't.
    He's like a kid in middle school keep lying and they get bigger and bigger, the new one needs to cover up the old new

    May 31, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. Matt

    Well, if Eric Holder's Department of Justice says Eric Holder didn't lie, that's good enough for me.

    -No one ever.

    May 31, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. rob

    @Sniffit
    The intent to Prosecute is right there in the reason Holder signed off for the investigation. Look at paragraph 7:

    "... The affidavit described Rosen as potentially being an "aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator" to the crime of disclosing government secrets,"...

    If that is not an intention to prosecute than I don't know what is. Rosen was suspected of being involved in a CRIME Snif and the next step is PROSECUTION. Now Holder was under no obligation to mention this in his testimony to congress BUT, the words he used were beyond ignorant on the face of it. Or, Holder knew exactly what he was saying because he knew the story was forthcoming and he needed to cover his tracks. Either way, at the very least Holder will probably resign in the near future. He deserves it

    May 31, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  5. Gman

    So. The Dept. of Justice, which is under the control of the Atorney General say the Attorney General did not lie?!?!?!? The ancient Romans has a saying: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Loosely translated: Who will guard the guards? This is a travesty.

    May 31, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. scarf

    You can't be a co-conspirator and not be a suspect. That's a lie all by itself. The Dems just aren't willing to prosecute their own and admit that their side is as bad or worse than the other. That's called a hypocrite.

    ----------------------------------

    You obviously are too young to remember Watergate, when the term "unindicted co-conspirator" became part of Everyman's vocabulary.

    May 31, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  7. Evergreen

    FBI investigation and an FBI generated subpeona. Is Mr. Holder head of the FBI?

    May 31, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. ESSSSS

    The question is intent. If Holder signed the warrant application with the intent to prosecute then he lied, if on the other hand he signed the warrant application because of a request from the FBI to gain information regarding the extent of material Kim leaked then he did not lie. The problem is that the question asked by congress should have been 2 questions. First, did you sign a warrant application for the reports communications with Kim. Second, did you sign the warrant application with the intent to prosecute the reporter and if not can you provide evidence from the FBI or other sources that supports that claim.

    The problem is that congress is full of lawyers and they ask questions to get the answers they want. In this case it appears they asked the question in such away to insure maximum ambiguity so that they give the press and American people another ghost to chase. The fact that the press has not asked these two questions only illustrates how easily they are manipulated.

    May 31, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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