AP Scandal: Why It Proves Eric Holder Needs to Go

On May 15, Attorney General Eric Holder appeared before Congress to answer questions concerning the seizure of Associated Press records. Holder testified “[w]ith regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something that I’ve ever been involved in, heard of or would think would be a wise policy. In fact, my view is quite the opposite.”


Nearly three years earlier, on May 28, 2010, the Justice Department submitted an affidavit to a federal judge seeking a search warrant to obtain Fox News reporter James Rosen’s emails. The Agent affirmed that there was probable cause to believe Rosen had criminally violated Section 793(d) of the U.S. Code, as an “aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator,” disclosing national defense information, punishable by up to ten years in prison. The affidavit cited “the reporter’s own potential criminal liability” as grounds for obtaining a secret warrant instead of simply asking him for the emails. Rosen was also dubbed a flight risk.

The request for a search warrant was denied by two separate federal judges on the grounds that the Justice Department was required to notify Rosen of the warrant. A third judge finally agreed to sign off on the warrant.

In a press release dated May 24, the Department of Justice acknowledged Holder was involved in the decision to obtain the search warrant. Holder also personally approved a decision to subpoena Fox News telephone records. 

For good reason, Holder has drawn fire for his testimony before Congress. His statement is utterly inconsistent with the affidavit submitted to the federal court. To put it plainly, under Holder’s direction, a member of the press was accused of criminally conspiring to disclose classified information, subjecting him to potential prosecution. That was the basis for the search warrant application.

But not to worry, President Obama has asked that this matter be thoroughly investigated. "I’ve raised these issues with the attorney general, who shares my concerns, ... So he has agreed to review existing Department of Justice guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters, and he’ll convene a group of media organizations to hear their concerns as part of that review."

In sum, Eric Holder is going to investigate why Eric Holder chose to tell a federal judge that a member of the press faced potential prosecution so as to garner a search warrant, and then denied same before Congress: No appearance of impropriety there.

Holder met with a few members of the press on Thursday. He insisted that the meeting be held off the record. On that basis, several news agencies refused to participate. Holder likely wanted to let the press know that he really had no intention of prosecuting Rosen. Of course, he couldn’t say that on the record because he’d be admitting to deliberately misleading a federal judge.

It’s time for Eric Holder to step down. In the alternative, a special prosecutor needs to be appointed.