Attorney General Holder today said he had nothing to do with seizing phone records of the Associated Press, revealing that he had recused himself from the whole case because he was interviewed by the FBI in connection with the investigation.
Holder spoke at the Justice Department. Here is some video from the briefing:
Instead, Holder said, it was Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole who rounded up the records. And in a letter today to AP President Gary Pruitt, Cole said was unapologetic and said he wasn’t giving the records back.
“We strive in every case to strike the proper balance between the public’s interest in the free flow of information and the public’s interest in the protection of national security and effective enforcement of our laws,” he wrote. “We believe we have done so in this matter.”
Holder too defended the DOJ action, which involved a leak related to an operation that foiled the blowing up of an airliner by an al Qaeda group in Yemen.
“This was … a very, very serious leak,” he said. “I have been a prosecutor since 1976 and I have to say that this is among, if not the most serious, it is within the top two or three most serious leaks that I have ever seen.”
Republicans condemned the targeting of journalists.
“Coming within a week of revelations that the White House lied to the American people about the Benghazi attacks and the IRS targeted conservative Americans for their political beliefs, Americans should take notice that top Obama administration officials increasingly see themselves as above the law and emboldened by the belief that they don’t have to answer to anyone,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called on Holder to resign. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama maintains confidence in the attorney general.