Published May 31, 2013
A top House Republican said Friday that his committee plans to pass "judgment" soon on whether Attorney General Eric Holder committed perjury when he testified to knowing nothing about the "potential prosecution" of the press -- as he challenged the department's claim that Holder was telling the truth.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told Fox News that Holder's testimony showed a clear "contradiction" with the facts.
After the department denied wrongdoing in a statement overnight, Goodlatte said the committee will be the judge of that, once it receives Holder's formal response to a letter they sent earlier this week.
"We'll wait until we receive the attorney general's reply ... before passing judgment on whether that constitutes perjury," Goodlatte told Fox News.
The deadline for that letter is Wednesday.
Goodlatte and other committee Republicans had voiced concern over Holder's testimony from a May 15 hearing, where he insisted "the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material" is not something he was involved in or knew about.
It emerged days later that the Justice Department obtained access to Fox News reporter James Rosen's emails -- after filing an affidavit that accused him of being a likely criminal "co-conspirator" in the leak of sensitive material regarding North Korea.
Rosen was never charged, and never prosecuted. But he was effectively accused of violating the federal Espionage Act.
A Justice Department official on Thursday defended the attorney general's testimony, calling it "accurate and consistent with the facts" of the case.
"At no time during the leak case ... before or after the FBI sought the search warrant, have prosecutors sought approval to bring criminal charges against the reporter," the official said.
But Goodlatte told Fox News that the affidavit "clearly implicated" Rosen on a criminal basis.
"That clearly contradicts his testimony," Goodlatte said.
And if the department never intended to prosecute Rosen, he said, "that raises an additional very alarming concern -- and that is is this Justice Department putting false information in their warrants to get the information they want?"
Meanwhile, Holder's effort to reach out to members of the media is getting off to a rocky start.
As part of a review into the DOJ's policies governing investigations that involve journalists, he held the first of a series of sessions with media representatives Thursday. A handful attended, while several other outlets declined to accept the invitation over the demand that the discussions be held off the record.
Fox News and the Associated Press, both of which had their phone records seized by the department, were among those who declined to attend.
However, the journalists who attended Thursday's session were allowed to stray from the off-record restrictions a bit. The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib, who attended, told Fox News that both sides agreed journalists could "describe the overall discussion and some of the specifics that were discussed."
Holder apparently admitted that the department needs to strike a better balance between First Amendment rights and national security concerns. He and his top aides, who were also there, again expressed their support for a reporter shield law.
Fox News' Doug McKelway contributed to this report.