Washington (CNN) – The Justice Department said Monday that Attorney General Eric Holder's recent testimony about leak cases involving reporters was "accurate and consistent," the latest response in an effort to refute charges the attorney general perjured himself in Congressional testimony.
Holder authorized a search warrant to get e-mails from a reporter's personal account but the Justice Department said at no time "have prosecutors sought approval to bring criminal charges against the reporter."
In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik wrote explaining that the request for a search warrant involving the reporter's e-mail satisfied the Privacy Prevention Act of 1980 and was done properly.
The committee had asked Holder to explain his testimony from May 15 in which he said, "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."
The letter signed by Justice Department official Peter Kadzik quoted another statement by Holder saying the focus of leak prosecutions is on those who "break their oath and put the American people at risk, not reporters who gather this information."
A May 2010 affidavit detailed the effort to get e-mails from the account of Fox News reporter James Rosen. He was not charged in the leak investigation although the document referred to him as a possible co-conspirator. The only person charged in the case was Stephen Jin-Woo Kim who allegedly leaked a classified report concerning North Korea to Rosen. According to the document, the government believed Kim had destroyed some possibly incriminating e-mails he had sent to the reporter and the prosecutors hoped to find those e-mails in the reporter's inbox.
"Probable cause sufficient to justify a search warrant for evidence of a crime is far different from a decision to bring charges for that crime; probable cause is a significantly lower burden of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt, which is required to obtain a conviction on criminal charges," Kadzik wrote in the three-page response.