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On AP Probe, Wide Gap Between Reid and Obama

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Reid said he’ll look into the circumstances surrounding the Department of Justice’s secret acquisition of some Associated Press telephone records.

“I can tell you that the president feels strongly that we need a — the press to be able to be unfettered in its pursuit of investigative journalism. And you saw, when he was a senator, the president co-sponsor legislation that would have provided further protections for journalists in this regard. And he is also mindful of the need for secret and classified information to remain secret and classified in order to protect our national security interests.”

Carney referred specific questions about the Justice Department investigation to the DOJ.

Coincidentally, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was holding a Tuesday news conference to publicize arrests the government had made for Medicare fraud. After Holder and others finished their remarks, the attorney general was asked about the AP probe. Although he recused himself from the matter previously, Holder was unapologetic about the investigation and its secret acquisition of AP telephone records, including from lines into the congressional press galleries.

“Now, I’m not familiar with all that went into the formulation of the subpoena. I was recused from that matter. But I’m confident that the people who are involved in this investigation, who I’ve [known] for a great many years, I’ve worked with for a great many years, followed all of the appropriate Justice Department regulations, and did things according to DOJ rules,” Holder said. He also said the nature of the leak warranted such actions.

“Well, you know, as I said, I don’t know all that went into the formulation of the subpoena. This was a very serious — a very serious leak, and a very, very serious leak. I’ve been a prosecutor since 1976. And I have to say that this is among — if not the most serious — it is within the top two or three most serious leaks that I’ve ever seen,” he said, while reiterating that, with his recusal, he did not have all the facts in front of him regarding the legal justification for the subpoena.

Such a position put him at odds with the Senate’s top Democrat.

“I think that someone from the Justice Department could have gone to the AP and said, ‘Hey, will you help us with this?’” Reid said. “If they said no, fine. Then they could have maybe gone a step further. But I don’t think this is fair, just to start subpoenaing records.”

The congressional press galleries are in the process of preparing a response to the Justice Department on the matter.

Disclosure: Jason Dick is a member of the Executive Committee of Periodical Correspondents and CQ Roll Call staff writer John Donnelly is a member of the Standing Committee of Correspondents.

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