May 15, 2013

The hole just keeps getting deeper and deeper. Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee today, Attorney General Eric Holder repeatedly played the old “I was recused” card. Lucky for him, too, that he had so many up his sleeve, because he needed one when the chairman asked him why the Justice Department didn’t just ask the AP reporters for their cooperation in the investigation in the first place, as they’re required by law to do.

After questioning Holder and getting the same, tired response, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee asked:

It’s also been reported that the Associated Press refrained from releasing this story for a week until the department could confirm that doing so would not jeopardize national security interests. That indicates that the AP was amenable to working with you on this matter. If that is the case, why was it necessary to subpoena the telephone records? Did you seek the AP’s assistance in the first place, and if not, why not?”

Again, Holder played the “I was recused” card: “Again, Mr. Chairman, I don’t know what happened there about interaction between the AP and the Justice Department. I was recused from the case.”

Juliette Kayyem with The Boston Globe, formerly assistant secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama, supports the Justice Department’s investigation, and reminds us that it shouldn’t matter that more than 20 Associated Press reporters and editors had their personal telephone records scrutinized by the government. She says personal information like what they ordered on their pizzas and conversations with friends are bound to be picked up in an investigation of this scope. But not to worry, because “Under the rules, extraneous information is discarded.”

What rules? If we’d been playing by the rules in the first place, Holder wouldn’t be sitting in the hot seat right now.

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