President Barack Obama said on Thursday that he had "complete confidence" in embattled Attorney General Eric Holder.
"I have complete confidence in Eric Holder as attorney general," Obama said at an afternoon news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "He does his job with integrity and I expect he will continue to do so."
Holder has come under fire for the Justice Department’s secret obtaining of telephone records of reporters and editors of The Associated Press. He said a leak on a CIA operation in Yemen was behind Justice’s seizure of the records.
The president, however, defended the probe earlier in the Rose Garden session, saying it was important to get to the bottom of leaks, Talking Points Memo reports.
"Leaks related to national security can put people at risk," Obama said. "It can put men and women in uniform that I've sent into the battlefield at risk. They can put some of our intelligence officers who are in various dangerous situations that are easily compromised at risk."
The president also called for consideration of a new "shield law" for the press.
The AP controversy has led even some liberal pundits to call for Holder’s firing – and the attorney general got into a heated exchange on Wednesday with GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.
The clash, primarily over Assistant Attorney General and Labor Secretary nominee Thomas Perez, led Holder to blast Issa’s conduct as "unacceptable" and "shameful."
"I have to keep doing my job even if the attorney general objects," Issa later told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
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