Tags: issa | investigate | justice | ap | probe

Rep. Issa: Investigate Why Justice Monitored AP Phone Records

Image: Rep. Issa: Investigate Why Justice Monitored AP Phone Records

Monday, 13 May 2013 11:36 PM

By Matthew Auerbach

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the House Judiciary Committee will “have the lead” on looking into reports that the Justice Department may have surreptitiously secured telephone records of AP reporters and editors at the behest of senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Politico reports.

“From a constitutional standpoint, the First Amendment, it’s very clear Judiciary will have the lead on this,” Issa (R-Calif.), a member of that committee, said on CNN.

“And Chairman Goodlatte and I will be happy to work together.”

Latest: Is Obama in Cover-Up on Benghazi? Vote Here

Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, made his comment after host Wolf Blitzer asked whether he would take action on the issue.

The AP reported late Monday afternoon that the “Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press.”

Response to the reports from top lawmakers in both parties was swift.

“The burden is always on the government when they go after private information – especially information regarding the press or its confidential sources,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I want to know more about this case, but on the face of it, I am concerned that the government may not have met that burden.

I am very troubled by these allegations and want to hear the government’s explanation.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking member on that committee, also called for more details regarding the reasons behind what he termed the “sweeping intrusion.”

“The department’s regulations state that prosecutors should obtain the Attorney General’s personal sign off when a free press is at stake, so the Obama administration needs to be transparent with its rationale for such a sweeping intrusion and detail whether the process outlined in regulation and the U.S. Attorney’s manual were followed and justified for national security,” Grassley said.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney deflected questions about the incident.

Latest: Is Obama in Cover-Up on Benghazi? Vote Here

“Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP,” Carney said.

“We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department.

Any questions about an ongoing criminal investigation should be directed to the Department of Justice.”

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