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Entries in Eric Holder (37)

Saturday
May252013

Did Attorney General Eric Holder OK Attempt to Hack Journalist’s Email?

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department stopped short of saying that Attorney General Eric Holder O.K.’d the investigation into Fox News reporter James Rosen. But critics have seized on a comment Holder made last week, asking if the attorney general misled Congress.

The Obama administration has been criticized for reportedly seizing Rosen’s emails and phone records, and for tracking his movement in and out of the State Department through security-badge records, as it investigated possible leaks of information about North Korea. Last week’s Washington Post report added fuel to an already controversial time for the Justice Department, which seized phone records of Associated Press reporters and offices.

In a statement on Friday, the Justice Department said the Rosen investigation had been approved “at the highest levels” of the Justice Department, including “discussions with the Attorney General.”

Here’s how the department explained its decision to investigate Rosen, in a background statement:

The Department takes seriously the First Amendment right to freedom of the press.  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.  After extensive deliberations, and after following all applicable laws, regulations and policies, the Department sought an appropriately tailored search warrant under the Privacy Protection Act.  And a federal magistrate judge made an independent finding that probable cause existed to approve the search warrant.

Attorney General Holder understands the concerns that have been raised by the media and has initiated a reevaluation of existing Department policies and procedures.  This review will include extensive engagement with representatives of the media.  The Department must strike the appropriate balance between its obligation to enforce the laws preventing leaks of classified information and First Amendment rights, and, through a new media shield law and appropriate updates to the Department’s internal guidelines, we are committed to achieving that balance.

When Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on May 15, four days before the Post reported on the Rosen investigation, Holder expressed skepticism of prosecuting reporters, as lawmakers asked him about the AP probe.

“You’ve got a long way to go to try to prosecute people — the press for the publication of that material,” Holder told the committee, according to a transcript service.

But he also said that he had never been aware of potential prosecutions of reporters.

“Well, I would say this. With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something that I’ve ever been involved in, heard of or would think would be a wise policy,” Holder said, responding to Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson’s suggestion that reporters’ First Amendment rights should be protected.

The Rosen leak was part of another prosecution — of the alleged leaker — but the Justice Department did suggest, in seeking a warrant for Rosen’s Gmail account, that he may have broken the law.

FBI agent Reginald Reyes wrote in an affidavit that “there is probably cause to believe that the Reporter has committed or is committing a violation of section 793(d), as an aider and abbettor and/or co-conspirator, to which the materials relate.”

Conservatives have seized on Holder’s comment, asking if the attorney general lied to Congress when he made it. Fox’s Karl Rove has asked that question, as have Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey and Townhall.com’s Katie Pavlich.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb282013

Eric Holder Worries About How Stressed Obama Is, Misses ‘Hanging Out’ 

Chris Graythen/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In an exclusive interview with ABC’s Pierre Thomas on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder expressed concern about the president and his workload.

“I worry about him sometimes, you know, because he’s the one guy who can’t get away,” said Holder.

“He’s a serious person, he takes these matters extremely seriously,” he continued. “I think he understands how this wears, has the potential to wear people down.”

Holder noted that Obama still is “the same guy that I think he was four years ago.”

Thomas asked Holder if the president is his friend, his colleague, or his boss.

“He’s all of those things,” Holder answered.

As the government’s top prosecutor, Holder is expected to maintain some distance from the president and his aides to avoid the appearance of politics affecting the Justice Department’s legal decisions.

“There has been a distancing because as attorney general, I have to be independent,” said Holder, before noting, “I look forward to the days when we can just be Eric and Barack again and hang out.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb282013

Eric Holder’s Contempt for Contempt

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder shrugged off the House’s move to hold him in contempt last year because he didn’t respect the votes by those who chose to do so.

In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview on Wednesday, ABC News’ Pierre Thomas asked Holder how he reacted when House Republicans voted with 17 Democrats to hold him in contempt of Congress last June over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “Fast and Furious” gun scandal.

“It’s something that I think was unfortunate,” Holder said.  “I think it’s a result of this kind of partisan sport that I think we engage in here in Washington far too often.”

Holder said the votes didn’t bother him, considering who cast them.

“But I have to tell you that for me to really be affected by what happened, I’d have to have respect for the people who voted in that way,” he told ABC News.  “And I didn’t, so it didn’t have that huge an impact on me.”

All but three House Republicans voted to hold Holder in contempt.  Two of them, Reps. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, and Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., have since left Congress -- meaning Holder does (or did) not respect most of the current Republican House delegation.

Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., voted against holding Holder in contempt, and House Speaker John Boehner didn’t vote, meaning Holder’s blanket statement does not apply to those two.

At issue was Holder’s compliance with a House subpoena to turn over documents related to the ATF’s Fast and Furious program to disseminate and track guns in Mexico.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., spearheaded the crusade against Holder and the Fast and Furious program, repeatedly accusing the attorney general of obscuring facts and refusing to comply with his investigation, and insinuating that top officials at the department, including Holder, likely knew about the program before terminating it.

The Justice Department maintained that it had consistently complied with Issa’s requests and that it had produced every kind of document typically handed over under such circumstances.

Holder took another jab at Republicans when asked about the current partisan stalemate over deficit reduction and the looming automatic budget cuts, which Holder says will interfere with vital law-enforcement missions and endanger U.S. security.

When asked about how much of the blame Obama’s administration deserves, Holder said he wasn’t sure “it’s an awful lot.”

“I mean, I think this president came into office with the notion that he wanted to change how Washington does business.  I think this president has extended his hand on any number of occasions,” he said.

“And I think we’ve seen too often the opposition not being what I would call a responsible opposition party, but a part that simply is opposed to anything the president has wanted to do,” Holder said.  “And I think that has led to partisan gridlock that the American people are not satisfied with and that frankly does not serve the interests of this nation.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb272013

ABC News Exclusive: Eric Holder Sounds the Sequester Alarm

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The looming budget sequestration will make Americans less safe, Eric Holder says -- and anyone who says otherwise isn't telling the truth.

"This is something that is going to have an impact on the safety of this country," the U.S. attorney general told ABC's Pierre Thomas on Wednesday in a wide-ranging, exclusive interview.

"And anybody that says otherwise is either lying or saying something that runs contrary to the facts," Holder said.

In his interview with ABC News, Holder reiterated warnings that if automatic spending cuts are triggered on Friday, the Justice Department will be handicapped in some of its most vital missions to prevent terrorist attacks and crime.

"The Justice Department is going to lose nine percent of its budget between now and September 30th. We're going to lose $1.6 billion. There are not going to be as many FBI agents, ATF agents, DEA agents, prosecutors who are going to be able to do their jobs," Holder said. "They're going to be furloughed. They're going to spend time out of their offices, not doing their jobs."

President Obama's Cabinet members have been warning for weeks that budget sequestration, which will begin Friday unless Obama and Republicans reach a deficit-reduction deal to avoid it, will leave their agencies shorthanded and could bring about disastrous consequences. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood have both appeared at the White House press briefing room to warn that furloughs for border-patrol agents, TSA agents and air-traffic controllers will mean weakened border and port security, longer waits in airport security lines, and logjammed air travel.

Holder, for his part, warned in a Feb. 1 letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee that cuts to the FBI, the ATF, the U.S. Marshals Service, and U.S. Attorneys would limit the department's capacity to investigate crimes. Cuts at the Bureau of Prisons, Holder wrote, would mean lockdowns and potential violence, with fewer staff members on hand. In a separate letter, FBI Director Robert Mueller warned that counterterrorism operations would be affected, with the possible elimination of some joint terrorism task forces with state and local police. Limited surveillance and slower response times would mean unwatched targets and the possibility that individuals on terrorism watch lists could gain entry to the U.S.

"FBI's ability to proactively penetrate and disrupt terrorist plans and groups prior to an attack would be impacted," Mueller wrote.

To Holder, the problem is simple.

"If you don't have prosecutors and agents doing what we expect them to do, and we won't if this thing actually takes place, we are going to be a nation that is going to be less safe. And that is simple fact," Holder said.

Some Republicans have claimed the Obama administration is exaggerating the sequester's purported consequences as a ploy to campaign for tax hikes. On Fox News Sunday this week, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., posited that federal agencies enjoy enough flexibility to avoid the worst consequences of the cuts.

On Wednesday, Holder acknowledged that the Justice Department will do what it can to avoid compromised security, while maintaining that furloughs can't be avoided.

"We will try to minimize the harm, but the potential is there and the reality is that this Justice Department will not be as capable as it is right now if this sequestration goes into effect and if it lasts for an extended period of time," Holder said.

The 2011 Budget Control Act, which mandates sequestration in lieu of a broad deficit-reduction agreement, requires even cuts across the board. According to the Office of Management and Budget, that means even cuts to federal programs, leaving agencies mostly unable to rearrange money and cut their budgets in less harmful places.

"Every component is going to have people who are going to be furloughed," Holder told ABC News, noting that preventing terrorism will be "obviously our first priority, to make sure that we keep the American people safe and free from threats from outside our borders. We'll do the best that we possibly can."

Earlier Wednesday, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg sounded off on the administration's threats about the looming cuts. "Spare me," Bloomberg said. "There’s a lot of posturing -- ‘I’m going to lay off my employees today unless you do something. We’re going to close the hospitals down. We going to take all the prisoners from jail and put them on the street.'  Spare me. I live in that world. I mean come on,” Bloomberg said, mocking the warnings coming from the administration.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct032012

Ryan Targets AG Holder in Fundraising Letter

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- The Romney campaign is using Attorney General Eric Holder as their latest foil for raising campaign cash.

In an email sent to supporters, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan writes “donate now to vote Barack Obama and Attorney General Holder out of office on Election Day -- so that Mitt Romney and I can restore justice to the Justice Department.”

The letter begins with Ryan calling for Holder to “step aside” because of the Fast and Furious gun investigation scandal.

“He’s misled Congress, and entirely botched the investigation of the Operation Fast and Furious debacle -- yet he still leads our nation’s Justice Department,” Ryan writes in the fundraising letter. “It’s just another example of the Obama Administration’s transparent hypocrisy that despite the tragic and very human toll of this scandal, Attorney General Holder refuses to resign -- and President Obama refuses to remove him.”

Ryan became the 131st House Republican to call for the attorney general’s resignation Sunday when his spokesperson told the Daily Caller that Ryan agreed with Mitt Romney that Holder should resign over the scandal. Romney called for Holder’s resignation last December.

Ryan is currently at debate camp in Virginia preparing for his face-off against Joe Biden on Oct. 11. An aide said the preparation included a lengthy set of debate exchanges with former Solicitor General and Biden stand-in Ted Olson, a series of meetings, and time for reading policy materials.

He will watch Wednesday night’s debate from Virginia with aides.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep212012

Obama Falsely Claims 'Fast and Furious' Began Under Bush

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Asked about the Fast and Furious program at a forum on Thursday, President Obama falsely claimed that the program began under President George W. Bush.

“I think it’s important for us to understand that the Fast and Furious program was a field-initiated program begun under the previous administration,” the president said. “When Eric Holder found out about it, he discontinued it. We assigned an inspector general to do a thorough report that was just issued, confirming that in fact Eric Holder did not know about this, that he took prompt action and the people who did initiate this were held accountable.”

In actuality, the Fast and Furious program was started in October 2009, nine months into the Obama presidency.

Previous programs involving ATF agents allowing guns to “walk” across the border so as to trace them were run during the Bush presidency, but not this particular “field-initiated program.”

The Inspector General determined Attorney General Eric Holder was immediately notified that Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot and killed in the line of duty, but he was not told about the connection between the firearms found at the scene of the shooting and Operation Fast and Furious.

ABC News learned that Holder was not made aware of that fact until sometime in 2011, after he received a letter from Senator Charles Grassley on January 27, even though Senior Justice Department officials knew about the troubling information more than a month before.



Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul172012

Rick Perry Demands that Obama Apologize

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The Republican governor of Texas today welcomed President Obama to the Lone Star State by asking him to distance himself from comments made by Attorney General Eric Holder comparing the state’s 2011 voter identification law to a “poll tax,” the Jim Crow-era laws that were declared unconstitutional in 1937.

“Perhaps while the President is visiting Texas, he can take a break from big-dollar fundraisers to disavow his Attorney General’s offensive and incendiary comments regarding our common-sense voter identification law,” Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement. “In labeling the Texas voter ID law as a ‘poll tax,’ Eric Holder purposefully used language designed to inflame passions and incite racial tension. It was not only inappropriate, but simply incorrect on its face. The president should apologize for Holder’s imprudent remarks and for his insulting lawsuit against the people of Texas.”

In a speech to the NAACP one week ago, Holder said that under Texas’s law “many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes.”

Last week, a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court in Washington. D.C. heard arguments in the stand-off between the Obama administration and the state of Texas over the law. While the voter ID itself is free, the documentation required to obtain an ID – a birth certificate, a Social Security card – is not.

In his remarks, the attorney general specifically said that the Texas law would be “harmful to minority voters” because 25 percent of African Americans lack the required identification needed to obtain a voter I.D., as opposed to eight percent of whites.

“Especially in recent months, Texas has – in many ways – been at the center of our national debate about voting rights issues,” Holder said. “Let me be clear: we will not allow political pretexts to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul022012

Boehner: GOP to Challenge Obama’s Executive Privilege in Civil Court

TOBY JORRIN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner said on Sunday that Republicans are preparing to file a civil suit in an attempt to gain access to more information pertaining to the Justice Department’s botched drug cartel gun tracking program.

The planned civil suit comes on the heels of a letter sent by the Justice Department stating that the DOJ would not prosecute Attorney General Eric Holder following a House vote to hold him in criminal contempt of Congress.

“It’s not clear to me that the U.S. District Attorney will in fact, go down that path.  That’s why we’re going to file, in District Court, a civil suit, over the issue of executive privilege,” Boehner said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

The Obama administration, in response to a request by Holder, asserted the right to executive privilege several weeks ago, in effect blocking congressional access to documents pertaining to the affair.

Officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives intentionally allowed thousands of marked guns to be sold to Mexican drug cartels as a way to track the flow of illegal guns across the border, but came under intense scrutiny after two tagged guns lost in the operation were recovered at the scene of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s killing in December 2010 near the Mexican border.

The program, known as Fast and Furious, was eventually shut down and disavowed, but Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee want to know what Holder knew and when he knew it.

“The American people have a right to know what happened,” Boehner said on Sunday.  “Brian Terry’s family has a right to know what happened here.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun292012

Justice Department Won’t Prosecute Holder for Contempt

Chris Graythen/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After Congress found the nation’s top law enforcement officer in contempt Thursday, the Department of Justice quickly wrote a letter to House Speaker John Boehner informing him that it will not prosecute U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for withholding documents in a congressional investigation of the Fast and Furious gun walking operation.

“The longstanding position of the Department of Justice has been and remains that we will not prosecute an Executive Branch official under the contempt of Congress statute for withholding subpoenaed documents pursuant to a presidential assertion of executive privilege,” James M. Cole, the deputy attorney general, wrote in a letter dated June 28 and addressed to the Speaker.

The House voted Thursday to pass a resolution which, for the first time in U.S. history, found a sitting U.S. attorney general in criminal contempt of Congress.

DOJ’s response does not come as a complete surprise. Historically when Congress votes to hold someone in contempt, the report is referred to the U.S. attorney of the District of Columbia for prosecution. But Holder’s case is unprecedented, going after the same official tasked with overseeing the department that’s charged with enforcing contempt.

The letter, which was also sent to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Reps. Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings, goes on to cite legal precedent of executive privilege claims during Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush’s administrations as justification for its refusal to prosecute Holder.

“Consistent with this uniform position and practice, the Department has determined that the Attorney General’s response to the subpoena issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform does not constitute a crime, and therefore the Department will not bring the congressional contempt citation before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute the Attorney General,” the letter concludes.

Congressional GOP sources expect the Oversight and Government Reform committee to work with the House general counsel to pursue the case in federal court with the hope that a court will ultimately compel Holder to hand over the outstanding documents.

Republicans also passed a second resolution Thursday that found Holder in civil contempt of Congress. That resolution authorizes the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform “to initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings to enforce certain subpoenas.”

Still, that process could take months or even years.

“It is regrettable that the political leadership of the Justice Department is trying to intervene in an effort to prevent the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from making an independent decision about whether to prosecute this case,” Frederick Hill, director of communications at the Oversight committee, said, reacting to the letter.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun282012

House Prepares for Holder Contempt Vote

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The House of Representatives is currently in the midst of a partisan debate on a resolution to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for withholding certain documents related to the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation.

A vote on the criminal contempt resolution is expected by 4 p.m. this afternoon.

If the vote passes, as expected, it would mark the first time in the history of Congress that it has found a sitting U.S. attorney general in contempt of Congress.

Later, the House will vote on a second civil contempt resolution, which authorizes the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings to enforce its subpoena.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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