House Republicans on Wednesday accused Attorney General Eric Holder of giving "deceptive and misleading testimony" to lawmakers when answering questions about the Justice Department's criminal probes of journalists, including Fox News' James Rosen.
A 70-page report by the House Judiciary Committee said Holder sought to "circumvent proper congressional oversight and accountability by distorting the truth about the Justice Department’s investigative techniques targeting journalists," Politico reports.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, the GOP chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said that Holder, now in his fifth year as attorney general, was failing at his job of running the department.
"I find the lack of leadership at the Department of Justice extremely alarming," Goodlatte said in a statement. "The deceptive and misleading testimony of Attorney General Holder is unfortunately just the most recent example in a long list of scandals that have plagued the department.
The report — "Journalists or Criminals" — details a 2010 Justice investigation into Rosen, Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent.
The previous year, Rosen had reported on CIA warnings that North Korea was likely to respond to U.N. sanctions with more nuclear tests. This was based on a secret intelligence report issued to fewer than 100 government officials.
Justice officials obtained a search warrant — signed by Holder — and examined Rosen's telephone records and emails. FBI agents even tracked his movements inside the State Department when he scanned his ID badge into the building's security system.
In court documents, an FBI agent suggested Rosen "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator" in violating federal laws prohibiting the leaking of classified information.
And disclosure of the subpoena for such evidence was not to be revealed to Rosen or Fox News.
But Democrats on the Judiciary Committee defended Holder, saying he did not lie in his May 15 appearance before the panel, Politico reports.
"After months of oversight work, the minority staff report makes clear that Attorney General Eric Holder did not provide deceptive or misleading testimony to the Judiciary Committee, and cooperated fully with the investigation into his appearance before the Committee," said ranking Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan in a report that cleared Holder of any wrongdoing.
Justice officials said the new report was nothing more than another partisan attack on Holder by House Republicans, many of whom have already called on the attorney general to resign over the failed Fast and Furious gun-running scandal.
"The report was produced on a purely partisan basis," Brian Fallon, the department's spokesman, told Politico. "Its purported findings are contrary to the record and strongly disputed by many of the committee's own members."
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