Attorney General Eric Holder attempted to set the record straight Wednesday on what some have called a “contradiction” in his testimony before Congress in May regarding the Department of Justice’s issue of a search warrant for Fox News reporter James Rosen’s records.
In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Holder maintained that his department had never prosecuted a journalist for publishing top secret information. He suggests the committee misinterpreted his statements “to mean that the Department also has not taken certain investigative steps—such as seeking a search warrant for a reporter’s emails from an internet service provider—during an investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.”
One of Goodlatte’s questions took issue with Holder’s statement in testimony that he had never “been involved with” or “heard of” “potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material.”
Here’s Holder’s response:
As I have explained, the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter was an investigative step that is separate from charging decisions. When I testified before the Committee, I stated that I was unaware of the Department ever charging a reporter with a crime simply for publishing material, and that remains my understanding today. In the matter of the unauthorized disclosure of information that appeared in a June 2009 article, while I was aware of and approved the government’s investigative step to seek a search warrant, prosecutors never sought my approval to charge a reporter. I do not agree that characterizations establishing probable cause for a search warrant for materials from a member of the news media during an ongoing investigation constitute an intent to prosecute that member of the news media. I do believe that a thorough investigation of the disclosure of classified information that threatened national security was necessary and appropriate.
Holder declared in the letter that he would not testify further in the matter or provide additional details to Congress. Read the full letter below.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.