May 31st, 2013
07:48 AM ET
9 years 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. Rick McDaniel

    Holder is a corrupt official. Bottom line.

    May 31, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  2. texasnotea

    Wow! It is a witch hunt after all! Poor gop'ers, just can't and wont accept the truth. You Obamaphobiacs will never learn.

    May 31, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  3. BrianMemphis

    Justice Dept: "Holder didn't lie"....
    John Wayne Gacy: "I didn't murder"...
    Both are lies of the highest form.

    May 31, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  4. mbo

    I guess the White House has a new definition for lying, cuz the old one was not telling the truth, and that does not seem to be their new definition.

    May 31, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  5. Bolthead

    Liberal George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley suggests that Holder did in fact lie, and Turley knows a bit about the laws regarding perjury.

    Professor Turley says that Eric Holder should resign...

    Or, be fired.

    May 31, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  6. ata777

    wow, a DOJ spokesman says the head of the DOJ didn't lie. it doesn't get any more reliable than that!

    May 31, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  7. jan

    what a headliner , from the DOJ -Holder didnt lie – what a surprise

    May 31, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  8. Sarah/VA

    To all republicans/teapartiers i think they've not learned anything yet! "GOD says vengence is his & he shall repay?" & also he says"dont bear false witness against their neighbour"

    May 31, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  9. Durundal

    you all sounds so pathetically feeble speaking out of the corners of your mouth. Oops, your confirmation bias is showing!

    May 31, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  10. Kodiac98

    I guess Clinton is back and we need to define what "is" is again.

    May 31, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  11. Yanni

    Now the economy is improving one war is ended and the second one is winding down, there have no choice left for the tea party/GOP but continue doing what they do the best: investigating anything, creating distraction and jamming progress. That is how they ended Clinton's last term, they were chasing Clinton while Clinton was chasing Bin Laden

    May 31, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. Data Driven

    Still awaiting the part where he broke current law.

    And though this case doesn't really have much to do with the Patriot Act, let me ask conservatives to join us liberals in common cause to demand legislators and the President repeal the Patriot Act immediately. We're all agreed we don't like invasive law enforcement agencies, yes? - let's cripple them so that they can't legally pursue such activity, whaddayou say?

    Meanwhile, though, I have no problem with Holder pursuing leaks that could compromise national security. You shouldn't either, conservatives. You have the right outrage on the wrong particular topic.

    May 31, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  13. Fair is Fair

    The justice department, led by AG Holder, says AG Holder didn't lie.

    OK.... I'm convinced.

    May 31, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  14. MaryM

    And there you have it. All you repubs fake outrage rings hollow, again.

    May 31, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  15. Babyboomer

    The witch hunt continues. Is this really what we have to look forward to for the next 3.5 years? Can someone in Washington PLEASE GET TO WORK...

    May 31, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  16. lottie

    Holder is a stand up guy. One who talks sense and repos can't stand that. When do they plan to stop looking for white house scandals and dogging Hillary too.? And maybe doing some of the stuff they where elected to do. Not only are they fighting this white house but the next election also. Tired of all the nut jobs. Hope we can get rid of some of them in 2014

    May 31, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  17. Deb in MT

    AG Holder was asked if he'd taken part in/been involved with any potential PROSECUTION of a reporter/reporters; he answered "no".

    Holder is a lawyer, and knows that you answer the question, and nothing more. You do not volunteer information. Guess what? No reporter has been prosecuted or charged with any crime here (nor has one been the target), which means that Holder told the truth. AG Holder truthfully answered the question asked.

    You've got nothing, GOPers.

    Poor GOP/TPer wishful thinking aside, there go those 'pesky facts getting in the way'* of what you want to believe, again.

    *paraphrasing St. Ronnie of Reagan.

    May 31, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  18. Tom1940

    An "interesting" comment from a subordinate "spokesperson" about their bosses sworn testimony before Congress, that flies in the face of facts on record. Perhaps this is the Josep Goebbels defense. (Hitler's Propaganda Minister). "Tell a lie over and over again, and the public will begin to belief it!"

    May 31, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  19. ThinkAgain

    I support President Obama, but am disappointed that he and Holder haven't gone after the Wall Streeters who crashed the global economy in 2008.

    That said, the only reason the GOP is pursuing this and other fabricated "scandals" is because they've got NOTHING to offer our country except FAILED policies – and the likes of John "oh I didn't know I was getting my picture taken with kidnappers/let's arm them" McCain representing them.

    May 31, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. Sniffit

    Freekin comment boards are just proof that all the GOP/Teatrolls have to do to get their radicalized useful idiot base to believe an accusation is to make it, hand it to the MSM and let the MSM do the job of broadcasting it to the furthest reaches of rural 'Murika on their behalf. What Holder said...and yes, it matters exactly what the wording was and what the legal concepts are that were in play...was not even remotely a lie. This is just trumped up garbage because the whole process that was followed to get the phone records from Rosen and AP was ENTIRELY LEGAL. The GOP/Teatrolls in the House have been unable to prove and know they will be unable to prove any actual, cognizable wrong-doing other than some people being butthurt about the idea that criminal national security leaks to the press might actually get prosecuted and attenuate the leak gravy train. Soooo, they resort to their favorite Plan B: accusing people of lying because what they said wasn't what the GOP/Teatrolls wanted to hear.

    May 31, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  21. ThinkAgain

    @Data Driven: "Meanwhile, though, I have no problem with Holder pursuing leaks that could compromise national security. You shouldn't either, conservatives. You have the right outrage on the wrong particular topic."

    Excellent post! It's ironic (although not surprising) that conservatives called everyone who disagreed with GW Bush a traitor when his administration illegally wiretapped Americans, lied us into a war, outed an active CIA operative (putting American and foreign intelligence assets in potentially mortal danger), etc., etc., etc.

    The GOP relies on the mental illness their base suffers from: transference. Their base knows something is wrong, but are incapable/unwilling to accept the real cause (they are being lied to, manipulated and betrayed by the GOP), so they look for something external to blame: That half-black, I'm sure he's a Muslim/Marxist/Communist/Socialist Kenyan in the White House, the election of whom – TWICE – by a majority of Americans ROCKED THEIR WORLD.

    May 31, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  22. Sniffit

    "flies in the face of facts on record"

    Oh really? And what facts support the idea that Holder was involved in or heard about any DOJ intent to actually prosecute reporters for disclosing national security leaks? Use of the word "co-conspirator" in an Affidavit does NOT suffice. That's a huge stretch and the GOP/Teatrolls in Congress know it. They also know that you don't know it, which makes it the perfect time to get you all hopped up on misinformation and baseless accusations.

    May 31, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  23. ThinkAgain

    In listening to right-wing talk radio (Hannity, Levin, etc.), the common tactic is to very briefly state that they don't have any evidence for an accusation and then go on and on and on restating their accusation ad naseum , then offering as proof that it's true the denials made by the accused.

    Anyone with half a brain and a modest ability to think critically sees through this every time. The MSM serve it up because it generates interest and brings in ad dollars. The right-wing trolls eat it up because they are intellectually lazy and morally corrupt (and just plain stupid, to be honest). The left has been slow to realize the right-wing based actually IS dumb enough to believe this nonsense.

    Regardless, we've got to keep pushing back – and get to the polls in DROVES come November 2014 to vote the obstructionist GOPers OUT!

    May 31, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  24. Data Driven


    Agreed! It goes to credibility. The sudden concern-trolling from conservatives (and from Media, for that matter) about intrusive government is just not credible. In order to be credible on public policy issues, you have to demonstrate a record of being consistent. In the first decade of the millennium, those of who were appalled with the ramped-up National Security State in America were accused of a "pre-9/11 mindset" and too chickenbleep to face the "new realities". Pffft. Conservatives are just being partisan, here. I know they love that Patriot Act, which they spent a decade defending against us wimpy liberals. But turn it on a Fox News reporter, and the Constitution is suddenly at stake? Conservative PLEASE.

    Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham just rolled out that old "pre-9/11 mindset" phrase in response to Obama's recent speech on these matters, in which the President had the temerity to suggest that we need to cool down the national-security apparatus and the all-war-all-the-time imperial attitude that has so much crippled us and has made us, frankly, a little insane. Cafeteria Constitutionalists, these conservatives.

    May 31, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  25. Sniffit

    "In listening to right-wing talk radio (Hannity, Levin, etc.), the common tactic is to very briefly state that they don't have any evidence for an accusation and then go on and on and on restating their accusation ad naseum , then offering as proof that it's true the denials made by the accused."

    Absolutely. The rant du jour is all about Schulman visiting the WH "repeatedly" while he was in charge of the IRS and Bill O'Reilly even calling it a "smoking gun" that they were plotting nefariously to target Teatroll groups applying for 501(c)(4) tax-exemption. Turns out, the information is readily available and, guess what? There's this thing called the ACA..a/k/a "Obamacare"...and it requires the IRS to play a very big role in its implementation and administration. The records show THAT is what Schulman was meeting with people at the WH to arrange. It's not even remotely sane to suggest that the frequency of his meetings at the WH is "surprising" and "suspicious" in light of all the preparation and planning and work that would need to be put into implementing the IRS's role in the ACA. Moreover, the log entries make incredibly clear that a "meeting at the WH" is very unlikely to include the POTUS. But, of course, all the right wing media has to do is scream their accusations and the rest of the spineless MSM is entirely cowed by it for fear that undoing the manufactured controversy with facts and rational thought might cost them market share and ad revenue.

    May 31, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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