May 31st, 2013
07:48 AM ET
3 hours ago
Justice Dept. says Holder didn't lie before congressional committee
CNN Political Unit
(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.
"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."