Not so secret meetings with Holder
May 31st, 2013
08:33 PM ET
2 years ago

Not so secret meetings with Holder

Washington (CNN) – Attorney General Eric Holder's off-the-record meetings with the news media on guidelines for handling investigations of leaks to journalists suddenly are not so buttoned-up.

The Justice Department's initial ground rules for the discussions proved so controversial many organizations declined to participate, including the Associated Press, the New York Times and CNN.

On Thursday and Friday Holder had three sessions with different groups of news executives.

After the last meeting on Friday with USA Today, Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times, media representatives said the entire discussion was on-the-record, meaning the participants were not bound to keep any details secret.

Their company lawyers also were able to come along, another departure from the earlier rules.

"The original invitation said it was off-the-record and we were all concerned about that," said Susan Page, USA Today's Washington bureau chief. "We asked that it be put on the record and the ground rules were eased."

Earlier this week a Justice Department official said the reason for the off-the-record format was to encourage a free exchange of ideas.

President Barack Obama directed the attorney general to review guidelines for investigations involving leaks to the media. That led to the meetings with news media representatives to hear their views.

This follows disclosures the Justice Department obtained AP phone records after it reported classified details of a thwarted 2012 plot in Yemen to try to blow up a plane with a bomb.

The government also obtained e-mails and phone records for a Fox journalist who allegedly received a classified report on North Korea from a former State Department contractor.

On Friday some of the media participants said they'd had good discussions but the attorney general did not make any commitments to change guidelines governing subpoenas involving the media.

But the news executives said Holder was responsive to their worries about an affidavit that characterized the Fox reporter as a possible co-conspirator in a national security leak.

"He (Holder) did reiterate what the president had said, which is a reporter doing his or her job should not be criminalized," said Susan Goldberg, executive editor of Bloomberg.

"Using the term 'co-conspirator' is what raised a lot of red flags for people and he did see that."

Holder is expected to hold more meeting with the media in coming days.

Obama asked the attorney general to report on the results of his review of media guidelines by July 12.

Thursday's meetings included executives of the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Daily News.


Filed under: Eric Holder • Justice Department
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. michael

    In my experience if you have to lie, hide are keep secrets you're doing something wrong.
    Secrets make you sick!
    In my experience when people hold the power of doing things in secret they turn bad quickly.
    In can do this and nobody will know! Who is going to believe that story.
    If you're wondering why your nation is falling apart you should stop thinking you're in charge!
    Give us and God a break! We know all your secrets we are watching you!

    May 31, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  2. sonnie3

    The Scandals are real and dirty for sure, Obama will need to ask holder to leave or fire him or go down in History as
    violating the good of John Q Public. This guy lied to congress?? Now the irs is committing crimes in profiling the T Party and conservative group asking for info that is no concern of the irs and it is illegal to do so??
    How much more scandal is coming up? The liberal democrats are screwing with our freedoms and liberties in an all out race to destroy America as we know it by Creating Bigger, Bloated, out of Control Government . Time for term limits and run the current congress and potus out of town.

    May 31, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  3. Impeachment is an Option

    Anyone but me see the BS factor in this? When has this administration kept a promise and where is all the transparency? Yeah, Nixon thought that he could keep secrets too, look where that got him...hope this puppet and his master end up in jail for Benghasi, the IRS capers, the Justice Dept., the EPA and the Dept. of Energy scandals, just to name a few. Nothing these posers do is legal and above board...anyone drinking the kool-aid will either figure this out real soon or they might as well give up their legitimacy as an informed voter!

    May 31, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  4. Manuel J.

    Obama and his minions continue to spin the story AND..... THE LIBERAL MEDIA has their Mr. Brown nose glasses on (I.e. they buy into it)!!!

    June 1, 2013 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  5. Texas Mom

    Holder reviewing the potential criminal actions of himself. Really? Wow Nixon must be rolling in his grave.

    June 1, 2013 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  6. California

    The administration obviously needs the media so if they screw over the media (which they have already done) the administrations fate is in their hands. Good luck.

    June 1, 2013 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  7. Wes

    I think it is time for this incompetent racist to step down.

    June 1, 2013 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  8. Worf

    He reminds me of Sadam Huessein, who identified himself to his imminent captors and added "I am willing to negotiate."

    June 1, 2013 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  9. Donkey Party

    Anyone else getting tired of these frivolous "scandals"? I mean besides sane, rational people?

    June 1, 2013 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  10. Frank

    Here's a free exchange of ideas: How about the DOJ and the Obama Administration cease its over-the-top trashing of the first and fourth amendments?

    June 1, 2013 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    We still should know exactly what was discussed.......in detail. There is too much corruption going on.

    June 1, 2013 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  12. Lynn

    He should have just come right out and said he didn't want foxnews there LOL.

    June 1, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  13. BO

    This is the most unjust justice department this nation has ever had.

    June 1, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  14. Jerry

    Wow!!! What a transparent administration! NOT!!! When caught red-handed, deflect, deflect, deflect. But, alas; it's not really working. Even some of Obama's butt kissing media are starting to ask "real" questions. And, believe it or not, most Américans are starting to see through the haze and continuous lies. There may still be light at the end of the tunnel.

    América, stay tuned...

    June 1, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  15. McBob79

    Mr. Holder has a laundry list of questionable activities while AG. He will be forced to resign before the summer is out and it will be best for the country.

    June 1, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  16. JZ

    So, are these Off the Record One the Record Meetings? Hard to keep up with all the double talk, sorry, triple, no wait, endless changing of the (much better) rhetoric

    June 1, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  17. Stuffit

    Will the impeachment hearings be open to the press?

    June 1, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  18. John P. Tarver

    Impeachable offences keep piling up.

    June 1, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  19. DragonMaster6

    Obama's, Transparent Government" at work when Holder must be forced to go on record as a public employee to provide the required information to the public it needs to make informed choices!!! Fast and furious anyone!!!

    June 1, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. Norma Vessels

    What the heck's the difference between a person who leaks classified information to a reporter .. and that same reporter telling it all to his newspaper! It's the same wrong.

    June 1, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  21. Getoverit

    @Lynn
    He should have just come right out and said he didn’t want foxnews there LOL.
    ------------
    Indeed. Everyone knows that, but again, we all know how this administration handles the truth.

    June 1, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. Data Driven

    @Donkey Party,

    I'm sick of it, but look: Republican congresscritters have a lot of work to do between now and January 2017. They haven't even fully investigated Michelle Obama's bare arms situation, yet. And while I'm glad to see - in theory, at least - the Media pushing back against governmental power, this story is a whole bunch of nothing. DOJ's ground rules about discussions .... ooooh, what a scandal. Inside baseball for media types. Hilariously, conservatives somehow think it's important.

    June 1, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |