The New York Times reports: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., a lightning rod of Republican attacks during President Obama’s first term, is now contending with a new round of criticism over the Justice Department’s campaign against leaks to the news media.
This time it is the news media and even some Democrats who are upset with Mr. Holder, who in recent days has taken steps seemingly aimed at assuaging them. He endorsed the enactment of a “media shield” law and invited leaders of news organizations to meet with him Thursday to discuss tightening rules on warrants and subpoenas for reporters’ records as part of leak investigations.
Even as Mr. Holder has sought to regain his footing, Republicans have resumed their criticism, accusing him of misleading Congress in testimony over whether the Justice Department has considered prosecuting journalists under the Espionage Act for publishing government secrets.
In a letter Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, and a Republican colleague, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, expressed “great concern” about Mr. Holder’s testimony before the committee this month, saying it “appeared to be at odds” with court documents that have come to light involving a warrant for e-mails of James Rosen, a Fox News reporter.
The prospect of a new round of perjury accusations from Congress has underscored that the furor over the leak investigations might pose a new threat to Mr. Holder, who surprised many Democrats by choosing to stay on after Mr. Obama’s re-election. For now, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are standing by Mr. Holder, even though the ranking member, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, pronounced himself “deeply troubled” by some of the investigative tactics used in recent leak cases. [Continue reading…]
BuzzFeed: Leading civil liberties groups criticized comments made by the Democratic Party’s communications director that media groups refusing to attend an off-the-record meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder are giving up their “right [to] gripe” about the Department of Justice’s pursuit of journalists’ records under Holder’s leadership.
“I think that what the Department of Justice is doing in soliciting comments … is in principle a good thing, but the suggestion that news organizations somehow give up their right to object by not accepting the invitation is a problem,” said Gabe Rottman, legislative counsel and policy advisor at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office.
After New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson announced the paper would not be attending a meeting with Holder to discuss the DOJ policies for dealing with reporters in leak investigations, Democratic Party communications director Brad Woodhouse tweeted:
POTUS asked AG to review how leak investigations are done but some in the media refuse to meet with him. Kind of forfeits your right gripe.
— Brad Woodhouse (@woodhouseb) May 29, 2013
Abramson had said in a statement, “We will not be attending the session at DOJ. It isn’t appropriate for us to attend an off the record meeting with the attorney general.” The Associated Press also will not be attending if the meeting remains off the record.
Michael Calderone is keeping track of who will be attending or not attending Holder’s meeting.
Jonathan Turley writes: Recently, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the administration’s sweeping surveillance of journalists with the Associated Press. In the greatest attack on the free press in decades, the Justice Department seized phone records for reporters and editors in at least three AP offices as well as its office in the House of Representatives. Holder, however, proceeded to claim absolute and blissful ignorance of the investigation, even failing to recall when or how he recused himself.
Yet, this was only the latest attack on the news media under Holder’s leadership. Despite his record, he expressed surprise at the hearing that the head of the Republican National Committee had called for his resignation. After all, Holder pointed out, he did nothing. That is, of course, precisely the point. Unlike the head of the RNC, I am neither a Republican nor conservative, and I believe Holder should be fired.
Holder’s refusal to accept responsibility for the AP investigation was something of a change for the political insider. His value to President Obama has been his absolute loyalty. Holder is what we call a “sin eater” inside the Beltway — high-ranking associates who shield presidents from responsibility for their actions. Richard Nixon had H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. Ronald Reagan had Oliver North and Robert “Bud” McFarlane. George W. Bush had the ultimate sin eater: Dick Cheney, who seemed to have an insatiable appetite for sins to eat. [Continue reading…]