In this Fox News Sunday Show With Chris Wallace: Eric Holder being investigated for Hill testimony; impact of political scandal on 2014
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
Attorney General Eric Holder is on the hot seat, caught in conflicting accounts of his role of the Justice Department’s investigation of reporters.
Joining us to talk about the growing scandal, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte, who’s in Roanoke, Virginia, and Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.
Gentlemen, let’s we begin with Attorney General Holder and what he told the House Judiciary Committee on May 15th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDER: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But we found out that a few days later, we found a few days later that Attorney General Holder, back in 2010, signed off on the request for a search warrant that would have named James Rosen, the potential FOX reporter and let’s put up in the screen what it said.
“There is probable cause to believe that the reporter committed or is committing a violation of the Espionage Act as an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator.” The request also spoke of the reporter’s own potential criminal liability in this matter.
Chairman Goodlatte, did Eric Holder lie to your committee?
REP. BOB GOODLATTE, R-VA.: Well, we’re going to give him an opportunity to respond. The chairman of the subcommittee, Jim Sensenbrenner, I sent a letter a few days ago giving him until next Wednesday to answer some very pointed questions about the conflict between his testimony under oath before the committee and the language that you just cited in the request for the warrant. That indeed is very troublesome.
It’s even more troublesome when the department issues a statement saying that because Mr. Rosen was not prosecuted, therefore the attorney general was telling the truth.
Well, quite frankly he referred in his testimony to potential prosecution, and then went on to say that he had never even heard of such a thing.
So, this is very troubling. But in addition, it’s more troubling that the department might be putting false information into requests for warrants so that they can get a warrant to get, not just the phone records of the — the phone numbers dialed as in The A.P. case, but the actual emails written by Mr. Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent of Fox News. This is a very, very serious allegation, and the Justice Department, I think, made the problem worse by claiming that because they were not prosecuting him, there was no false information given by the attorney general.
WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about it directly. On the one hand, you have him in his testimony saying that he never heard of, was never involved in any potential, you’re right, potential prosecution. And, on the other hand, he signed off on this warrant with all these buzzwords in it. Is it fair to say that you’re investigating Attorney General Holder for possible perjury?
GOODLATTE: Well, we’re certainly concerned about that. That was the purpose of sending the letter. So, yes, it is fair to say we are investigating the conflict in his remarks. Those remarks were made under oath. But we also think it’s very important that the attorney general be afforded the opportunity to respond.
So, we will wait to pass judgment until after we receive his response, unless, of course, he’s not forthcoming with that. You know, in “The A.P.” case, he passed the buck to the deputy attorney general. And so after the hearing two weeks ago, we wrote to deputy attorney general James Cole with a series of pointed questions about that matter. The deadline that he had for responding was Friday. We still have not heard from him.
WALLACE: So, let me ask —
GOODLATTE: So, the matter I think is a serious matter, and I hope that —
WALLACE: Let me just interrupt for a second. I’m going to bring in Congressman Van Hollen in a moment. You say you are investigating him for possible perjury. What could Holder say to clear up this clear discrepancy?
GOODLATTE: Well, I think in fairness to the attorney general, I’m not going to second-guess what he will tell us, nor will I second- guess and I need more information about what exactly his involvement was with the issuance of the search warrant with regard to the Rosen matter, which, of course, wasn’t even a subject of the hearing. That was focused on “The A.P.” matter. It was only when a federal judge recognize that this sealed warrant had been held an additional 18 months, or nearly three years, beyond when the warrant was issued, that this became public since the hearing.
So, this is new information to us, and we want to hear from the attorney general in response to what you point out is a clear contradiction between his statement and the facts as we know them as this point.
WALLACE: Congressman Van Hollen, same question to you basically. How do you reconcile Holder’s testimony under oath to the committee that he had never heard of, was never involved in, not the prosecution, but the potential prosecution, of a reporter with the fact that he signed off on the request for a search warrant that spoke specifically of James Rosen’s potential criminal liability?
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D-MD.: Well, first, Chris, I’m glad the chairman will give the attorney general an opportunity to respond here.
Here’s how. These are perfectly consistent. And it’s often the practice in cases where you have investigations that you target somebody for the purpose of gathering information with never having any intention of prosecuting them.
And what the attorney general said is that it’s — it was never — it was not their intention to prosecute Rosen in this case, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t seek relevant information to a case where we know that important, top secret national security information was disclosed to potentially compromise our sources and methods in North Korea.
Let’s remember, what happened was you had a contractor at the State Department, Steven Kim, who gave information to Rosen.
WALLACE: Allegedly gave information.
VAN HOLLEN: Allegedly.
The FBI apparently went after Kim and got his records, but there was missing information that they were seeking, and that’s why they went to a federal judge, an independent judge, and an FBI investigator under oath filled out an affidavit, seeking information as part of their case against Steven Kim.
WALLACE: But the fact is the FBI investigator, Mr. Reyes, who signed off on this affidavit, did it — we’re now told, the Justice Department admitted — with the approval of the attorney general. And it isn’t that they went to one judge. They went to three judges before they got one who would agree that Rosen would not be notified of this.
You don’t think that’s in any way signing a false affidavit? Which I must tell you, sir, is also perjury.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes, it would be. But tell me what’s false in the affidavit. There are no false allegations that are made in this affidavit that I know of. And certainly, I don’t think Chairman Goodlatte has any information about false allegation in this affidavit.
WALLACE: The attorney general says —
GOODLATTE: Well, Chris —
WALLACE: Go ahead. I’ll Chairman Goodlatte — what’s the false information in the affidavit?
GOODLATTE: Well, the false information is that they found probable cause to find that he was an aider, abettor or co-conspirator with the alleged leaker of the information. Therefore, when the attorney general says that he’d never heard of such a potential prosecution, it raises the question, either the attorney general is not being truthful or the Justice Department has a lot to answer for in using allegations with regard to an individual to get a search warrant that they would not otherwise get unless they indeed could show they had probable cause to find that to be the case.
WALLACE: I’m going to ask you about that directly. Attorney General Holder says in his testimony to Congress, with regard to the potential prosecution of the press — never heard of it, never involved in it. The search warrant talks about James Rosen’s potential criminal liability.
Potential and potential.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes. But the attorney general and the Justice Department always have the discretion not to bring a prosecution or criminal case. And as the attorney general said, it’s their policy essentially not to bring that kind of case. That does not mean it’s not true as a legal matter to allege exactly what they alleged in this affidavit. After all, as we know, there are lots of facts in this case. The fact is Rosen and Kim set up these alias names, special email accounts.
But that doesn’t mean that the Justice Department ever intended to criminally prosecute Rosen. I mean, not at all. I mean, people fill out affidavits as part of cases where they’re trying to collect information in this kind of cases.
WALLACE: I think — I think we plowed this ground.
Let me move on to another subject, and you can get back into this in your answer, Congressman Goodlatte.
Congressman Van Hollen, you say some Republicans are using the Holder case to distract from the real issues of the economy and jobs. Do you not think that the possible infringement of First Amendment rights of reporters is a real issue?
VAN HOLLEN: Of course, it’s an issue. The issue is how do you balance our legitimate national security needs with our First Amendment rights?
You’ve got to admit this whole thing reeks of hypocrisy, Chris. It wasn’t that long ago you have Republicans on Capitol Hill, and a lot of folks on Fox, going after the Obama administration, saying you’re not getting to the bottom of these national security leaks. It was nonstop for a while.
Then, the administration goes after these national security leaks, and people say, hold, you can’t do that. The reality —
WALLACE: In fairness, that’s not what people said. People said you can’t talk about a reporter as a potential co-conspirator.
How many — let me ask you a question as a lawyer.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes.
WALLACE: How many times has the Justice Department successfully prosecuted, or even tried to prosecute, a reporter under the 1917 Espionage Act?
VAN HOLLEN: Oh, I don’t think we have.
WALLACE: So whose hypocrisy are we talking about here?
VAN HOLLEN: And, you know, you’re point is, the attorney general is saying — weren’t planning to prosecute this reporter either. That’s the whole issue here, that they were never intending to prosecute him. They were trying to collect information in a case that involved a leak of important national security information that compromised sources and methods. I think it’s perfectly legitimate once they exhausted their search of Kim, who was the target, that they collect additional information for the prosecution against Kim, not Rosen.
WALLACE: Congressman Goodlatte?
GOODLATTE: Chris, if I might add, the information submitted to the judges indicated that Mr. Rosen was considered to be a flight risk. Well, how would he be a flight risk in the mind of the Justice Department, of the officials pursuing this matter if they did not have a potential prosecution, an intent to prosecute him when they went and requested this search warrant?
They would not have received a search warrant if they had not said that he was a potential —
WALLACE: Flight risk.
GOODLATTE: — a target of this investigation. And therefore, you have a real crossing between First Amendment freedoms and overzealousness on the part of the Justice Department.
It is important. I agree with Chris Van Hollen — it is important to investigate leaks. And we have always said that and will say it right now. But I would argue that in both the mishandling of this case, and “The A.P.” case, the Justice Department has damaged their ability to investigate leaks properly because they haven’t followed the rules, and in this case, the attorney general has to answer for it in particular.
WALLACE: Gentlemen, I’ve got to break in. We’ve only got a couple minutes left. I want to get to one more question that I think you’ll both agree is very important.
This month, the Senate is going to consider a comprehensive immigration reform plan, including a path to citizenship.
Congressman Goodlatte, you’re at the center of this in the House, as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, will you support a comprehensive immigration reform plan or does it have to be done piecemeal, piece by piece, and would you — does the border have to be secured? Not a plan to secure it, but actually secure it before you’ll even consider a path to citizenship?
GOODLATTE: We are hard at work on this problem. We have a broken immigration system in the country. It needs to be fixed. Our legal immigration, our enforcement, and figuring out the appropriate legal status for people who are not lawfully present in the United States all need to be addressed.
We think it’s better to do it with a step-by-step approach. We’ve introduced a series of bills in the House, both the Judiciary and the Homeland Security Committee. We’ll continue down that path.
But the final outcome will be in terms of the form of the legislation is not yet known. We are, though, dedicated to solving all three of those problems.
WALLACE: And very briefly — we’re running way over. Does — would you consider a path to citizenship before the border is actually secured?
GOODLATTE: I — I do not think a special pathway to citizenship should be provided at all, but a legal status should not be provided before we have underway the actual implementation of a number of reforms, not just border security, but interior enforcement since 35 percent to 40 percent of the people who are unlawfully present in the United States enter legally. And therefore, the border isn’t relevant to that, but the enforcement in the interior of the country is.
WALLACE: I want to bring in Congressman Van Hollen.
Brief answer, sir, if you will.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, first, Chris, I can’t let the comment go that the attorney general violated the guidelines. They’re talking about revising the guidelines, not because he violated them, but maybe because they need to be changed.
On immigration reform — you’ve got a big bipartisan piece of legislation that looks to be coming out of the United States Senate, which balances all these issues, border security, but also making sure that people can come out of the shadows and get on a pathway over a long period of time, after paying fines, learning English, toward citizenship, so they can participate fully in the society, and frankly become full taxpayers as part of that process.
I hope the House will move finally, like the Senate is. The judiciary committee has not marked up any legislation, just like they’ve not had a single hearing when it comes to gun safety and gun violence.
VAN HOLLEN: No, but I mean — but, look, the Senate is moving on important issues. This First Amendment issue is a very important issue, but we should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
WALLACE: Congressmen Van Hollen, Congressman Goodlatte —
GOODLATTE: And we are, Chris.
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