Eric Holder Recused Himself From Case Involving AP Phone Records
Attorney General Eric Holder revealed today that he hasn’t been involved in the criminal investigation that resulted in the seizure of the phone records of Associated Press reporters for nearly a year:
Attorney General Eric Holder recused himself from the Department of Justice’s decision to secretly seize two months of phone records of Associated Press journalists.
Holder said he recused himself early on in the DOJ’s investigation of what he described as some of the most serious leaks from government officials that jeopardized national security.
He said because he recused himself early he did not have all the facts surrounding the investigation.
“I don’t know all that went into the formulation of the subpoena,” Holder said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Holder however did say the leak that sparked the subpoena was “a very serious leak.”
“This was a very serious leak. A very very serious leak,” Holder said. “It put the American people at risk, and that is not hyperbole. It put the American people at risk.
Earlier on Tuesday a DOJ official said the recusal came as a result of Holder being interviewed as part of the ongoing investigation into the leaks.
“To avoid any potential appearance of a conflict of interest, the Attorney General recused himself from this matter,” said the official.
The official said that Deputy Attorney General James Cole signed off on the subpoena authorizing the seizure of the AP’s phone records last year.
Given that there is still an ongoing criminal investigation with regard to the leaks, it’s unlikely that we’ll hear much of anything about this AP story any time soon. Additionally, while there are serious First Amendment issues raised by the seizure of journalist’s phone records, the only real question at this point is whether the Justice Department followed it’s own procedures regarding these types of subpoenas. As long as that’s the case, it seems unlikely that anything will come of this story even though it ought to lead to a serious discussion about reporter’s rights in these types of situations.