President Barack Obama's Justice Department is defending the decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to sign off on the search warrant used to gain access to Fox News reporter James Rosen's emails, according to the news organization
The warrant named Rosen a "possible co-conspirator" in violation of the Espionage Act for obtaining leaked classified information from a Pentagon source. Rosen has not been charged.
"The Department takes seriously the First Amendment right to freedom of the press," the agency said in a written statement to Fox on Friday. "In recognition of this, the Department took great care in deciding that a search warrant was necessary in the Kim matter, vetting the decision at the highest levels of the department, including discussions with the Attorney General."
Officials insisted that they sought an "appropriately tailored search warrant" only after "extensive deliberations and after following all applicable laws, regulations, and policies."
The revelation of Holder's involvement came on the same day Obama said in a speech that he had ordered Holder to review the Justice Department's standards for investigating cases that involve journalists.
"I am troubled by the possibility that leaked investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable," Obama said in the speech. "Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs."
A law enforcement official told NBC News
of Holder's personal involvement on Thursday. Holder had previously said that he recused himself from the AP phone records investigation since he had been a witness in the initial probe, but no one had previously indicated Holder's role in the Rosen case.
"It was approved at the highest levels -- and I mean the highest," the law enforcement official told NBC, speaking on condition of anonymity. He told the news organization that he included Holder in that statement.
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