During a Justice Department oversight hearing Tuesday, the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee accused Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. of committing perjury during his Jan. 29 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said he believed Clapper's refusal to acknowledge whether warrantless searches of Americans' communications had been conducted was perjurious after Clapper appeared to concede the point in a letter last week to Sen. Ron Wyden.
"Director Clapper's perjury in my opinion has been covered extensively," the Wisconsin Republican said. "In light of this, are you willing to discuss whether or not the Justice Department is investigating Director Clapper for his statements before the Senate?
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. refused to say whether the DOJ was conducting an investigation.
"I'm really not in a position to confirm whether the department is investigating any particular matter, but we are reviewing the material that you and other members of the committee have provided to us, and I can assure you that we will take any action that is appropriate," Holder said.
In March 2013, Wyden asked Clapper whether the NSA collects data from millions of Americans during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, which Clapper denied at the time.
"Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly."
Sensenbrenner continued to grill Holder Tuesday, referring to Clapper's post-hearing interview last March with NBC News' Andrea Mitchell, stating he gave the "least untruthful" statement in his testimony.
"The only way Congress and for that matter the courts can be able do their job is to get truthful testimony," Sensenbrenner said. "My understanding of the offense of perjury is that it was made under oath, which is was, it was knowingly false, which Director Clapper admitted, even after he was given a chance to change the testimony and is also material to a government investigation."
Wyden previously hammered Clapper for stonewalling the committee when senators investigated the NSA's program last year.
"I tried with written questions, Director Clapper, a year ago to get answers, and we were stonewalled on that. And this committee can't do oversight if we can't get direct answers," the Oregon Democrat said at a Jan. 29 hearing. "So when will you give the American people [an] unclassified answer to that question that relates directly to their privacy?"