House Judiciary Committee to Justice: Explain snooping on AP, please

posted at 2:01 pm on May 23, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Get ready for more televised committee hearings.  Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a list of pointed questions to Deputy Attorney General James Cole this morning as the committee starts to probe the seizure of phone records from the Associated Press in a leak investigation. The committee also wants to know how Cole got put in charge of the snooping in the first place:

Some of the questions focused on Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to recuse himself from the investigation of the AP phone records, as well as whether Cole was the one to personally sign off on the subpoenas to the AP.

Justice seized the records as part of an investigation into national security leaks. Holder testified last week that he was questioned as part of the probe, which is why he recused himself. Cole has taken the DOJ lead on the case in Holder’s absence.

No one knew of the recusal until last week, when Eric Holder revealed it in House testimony.  Holder managed to accomplish the recusal verbally despite regulations requiring written notice, and this is a key point.  The kind of warrant executed on media records by Cole and the DoJ in this instance requires approval from the Attorney General alone by statute.  Holder argued that his recusal made Cole an acting AG for the purposes of this investigation, but that change of authority should have been recorded and noted.

The same statute requires Justice to at least try to work with a media organization before seeking a narrowly-focused warrant.  Goodlatte notes that Cole didn’t adhere to either condition:

Goodlatte pressed Cole on why Justice didn’t attempt to negotiate with the AP for access to the phone records after the news agency had agreed to hold off on publishing a story because of the government’s national security concerns.

“This indicates a willingness on the part of the AP to work with the Justice Department on issues affecting national security,” wrote Goodlatte. “Given this, why did the department not seek the AP’s assistance with its request or provide notice to the AP prior to issuing the subpoena?”

Remarkably, only the Republicans on Judiciary signed the letter.  That’s all that is necessary to seek subpoenas if it comes down to that, but it’s an indication that Democrats might dig in to defend Holder and Cole even at the risk of attacking the Associated Press and the rest of the media by extension.  At the very least, it makes it clear that Democrats don’t put a high priority on protecting a free press — or as the New York Times put it yesterday, demonstrate “insufficient concern about a free press.”

Also remarkably, the letter apparently makes no mention of the snooping on Fox News’ James Rosen, in which the DoJ bypassed the applicable statute by representing Rosen as a co-conspirator in espionage to a federal court.  That will be even less defensible than what occurred with the AP, so perhaps Goodlatte sees some value in pursuing it as a separate case, or perhaps a similar letter will go out in the next few days addressed to Holder himself for answers.  Goodlatte gave Cole a deadline of eight days to respond to this letter, and it will be interesting to read the response — or see if Goodlatte gets one at all.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Am I the only one who thinks that guy looks like Heinrich Himmler?

CurtZHP on May 23, 2013 at 2:03 PM

In the USA, today.

YOU are NO longer a free people.

Schadenfreude on May 23, 2013 at 2:08 PM

The “Bus” strategy Obama uses to such great effect requires willing victims, and Cole apparently decided Eric Holder is worth sacrificing himself for. Why would anyone think that Holder, whose personal career highlight previous to now was buying a pardon for America’s greatest tax cheat and Iran trading scum Marc Rich, is worth going under a bus for?

MTF on May 23, 2013 at 2:08 PM

Am I the only one who thinks that guy looks like Heinrich Himmler?

CurtZHP on May 23, 2013 at 2:03 PM

Close, if he cut the curly hair. These are our oppressors.

65droptop on May 23, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Democrats might dig in to defend Holder and Cole even at the risk of attacking the Associated Press and the rest of the media by extension

Too good to be true.

Hearings should be quite enetertaining, to say the least. The Holder recusal thingy was a joke from the jump.

petefrt on May 23, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Get Holder and Cole at the same table, at the same time, and see which one points a finger at the other first. One of them, or both, are in some deep doo-doo.

iurockhead on May 23, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Surrender monkey is giving a speech on combatting terrorism. Let’s get a thread going.

fogw on May 23, 2013 at 2:11 PM

My hope is that Messrs. Ailes and Murdoch will put unlimited millions into the devense of Mr. Rosen…yes, yes, not the AP, but related to media.

The ACLU and all free-thinking true liberals and progressives should all help to fight the tyrannical gov’t, alas.

Schadenfreude on May 23, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Surrender monkey is giving a speech on combatting terrorism. Let’s get a thread going.

fogw on May 23, 2013 at 2:11 PM

He eliminated the word “terrorism” and now changes the subject from all his scandals.

A bigger thug there never was, in all of history.

Schadenfreude on May 23, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Lock Holder and Cole in a room with one presidential pardon.

Whoever emerges gets a fair trial.

aquaviva on May 23, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Remarkably, only the Republicans on Judiciary signed the letter. That’s all that is necessary to seek subpoenas if it comes down to that, but it’s an indication that Democrats might dig in to defend Holder and Cole even at the risk of attacking the Associated Press and the rest of the media by extension.

Please Dems, make this into a partisan battle where you end up defending corrupt officials. That’ll be a winning strategy going into the 2014 elections.

Happy Nomad on May 23, 2013 at 2:15 PM

He eliminated the word “terrorism” and now changes the subject from all his scandals.

Schadenfreude on May 23, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Au contraire. Liar-in-Chief mentioned the terrorism in Lybya.

Did not mention movie on youtube though.

fogw on May 23, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Cole is a lefty and a careerist who pre-dates the Bush43 administration.

Ashcroft or Gonzales should have gotte rid of him.

Wethal on May 23, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Lock Holder and Cole in a room with one presidential pardon.

Whoever emerges gets a fair trial.

aquaviva on May 23, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Followed by a first-class hangin’.

UltimateBob on May 23, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Ashcroft or Gonzales should have gotte rid of him.

Wethal on May 23, 2013 at 2:16 PM

They have stacked the deck.

We don’t clean house when we can, but they always do.

On top of that is the political influence of government employee unions.

The build-up of leftists over the years has saturated the bureaucracy.

petefrt on May 23, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Goodlatte gave Cole a deadline of eight days to respond to this letter, and it will be interesting to read the response.

Steve Z on May 23, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Well at least this is something the media will focus on. And only because it is the AP.

petunia on May 23, 2013 at 2:31 PM

or see if Goodlatte gets one at all.

Won’t get one.
This Administration is not noted for it’s timeliness in public matters.

Jabberwock on May 23, 2013 at 2:33 PM

and it will be interesting to read the response — or see if Goodlatte gets one at all.

pleading the 5th ?

burrata on May 23, 2013 at 2:34 PM

President Dronestrike is pointing off camera and yelling “squirrel”…

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 2:34 PM

fogw on May 23, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Sorry, I did not mean in his speech, today, just in his ‘presidency’.

Schadenfreude on May 23, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Now, let’s see if the LSM talking bobble-heads call this a witch hunt.

Liam on May 23, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Dear Leader just used the word…”humble”.

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Dear Leader just used the word…”humble”.

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 2:36 PM

I’m sure his definition is, “Anyone who knows his place in regard to me.”

Liam on May 23, 2013 at 2:42 PM

petefrt on May 23, 2013 at 2:24 PM

When the GOP does it, the MSM screams, “Purge!”

When Dems do it, MSM applauds, “Fresh persectiveS! New talent!”

Wethal on May 23, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Dear Leader just used the word…”humble”.

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 2:36 PM

How’d he use it? As in “Humble yourself before me and ignore my abusive overreach of government to punish my enemies.”

Happy Nomad on May 23, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Dear Leader just used the word…”humble”.

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Of course. He’s the most humble person he knows.

CurtZHP on May 23, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Am I the only one who thinks that guy looks like Heinrich Himmler?

CurtZHP on May 23, 2013 at 2:03 PM

Close, if he cut the curly hair. These are our oppressors.

65droptop on May 23, 2013 at 2:10 PM

You wanna good laugh, check out this dude:

Obama’s New Energy Secretary: Global Warming “Not Debatable”…

slickwillie2001 on May 23, 2013 at 2:44 PM

He’s offering his media a olive branch on that little problem Eric Holder had with them…

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 2:45 PM

He’s offering his media a olive branch on that little problem Eric Holder had with them…

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 2:45 PM

So that’s why he had those 4 fluffers over at his palace yesterday ….hmmmmm

burrata on May 23, 2013 at 2:47 PM

slickwillie2001 on May 23, 2013 at 2:44 PM

What is that? Is it a Pat?

Ann on May 23, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Gitmo closing supporters interrupting POTUS speech…applause applause applause.

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Who is this woman screaming during the Gitmo closing part of Dear Leader’s speech..?

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 2:52 PM

Dear Leader is willing to cut this lady some slack because she supports his position…
Another plant..?

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 2:54 PM

You wanna good laugh, check out this dude:

Obama’s New Energy Secretary: Global Warming “Not Debatable”…

slickwillie2001 on May 23, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Another reprobate sodomite ideologue appointed to destroy.

tom daschle concerned on May 23, 2013 at 2:56 PM

I guess that with these DOJ as well as all of the IRS individuals, I’d like to see them subject to a mandatory examination *by* the IRS and DOJ for, oh, about 10 years, the period during which they are required to research and provide documents about any and all things that come to the mind of the appointed examiners (maybe some Tea Party Patriot folks would volunteer), including but not limited to their historical school records, back to kindergarten, names and addresses of anyone they ever dated or ever thought of dating, content and names of mental participants in any sexual fantasies – real or imaginary – they’ve ever had, copies of every book report they’ve ever written, including rough drafts, complete inventories of every home they’ve ever lived in, including apartments, as if taken at the end of each calendar year – nah, better make that each calendar quarter, just to be sure, hard copy of every email they’ve ever sent or received, with personal backgrounds on every party to those emails, including who they’ve ever voted for, ever talked to, ever had lunch with or made eye contact with, etc…

… under penalty of immediate imprisonment should they dare to utter a syllable of objection to the political proctological exam they’re receiving. F*ck every damn one of them. And no retirement benefits, no pension, nothing. Not another damn dime of taxpayer money for these petty mother*cking tyrants.

Midas on May 23, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Was Medea Benjamin invited to the POTUS speech today…?

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 3:16 PM

They have stacked the deck.

We don’t clean house when we can, but they always do.

On top of that is the political influence of government employee unions.

The build-up of leftists over the years has saturated the bureaucracy.

petefrt on May 23, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Always harder for the party handicapped by (1) media hyperbole when attempting to dismiss even incompetent officials OR political appointees; (2) respect for the Civil Service statutes requiring “cause” for a dismissal + principled reluctance to manufacture fake causes for political reasons; (3) over-reliance on the personal integrity of the employees to not violate laws or nonpartisanship standards.

There is no hope of cleaning the unions; they would have to be statutorily dismantled, and the time may not be quite ripe for that.

Diluting the Leftist saturation would take generations, and Conservatives apparently don’t opt for that kind of career in large enough numbers.

The only possible solution is public exposure and intense prosecution.
And unremitting vigilance, because there will be other occurrences.
And complete refusal by the Republicans to do the same sort of thing.
We shall see if any of these occurs.

AesopFan on May 23, 2013 at 3:18 PM

You wanna good laugh, check out this dude:

Obama’s New Energy Secretary: Global Warming “Not Debatable”…

slickwillie2001 on May 23, 2013 at 2:44 PM

It’s TINY TIM!!

CurtZHP on May 23, 2013 at 3:21 PM

Was Medea Benjamin invited to the POTUS speech today…?

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 3:16 PM

I would not be surprised if she was keeping an eye on it.

slickwillie2001 on May 23, 2013 at 3:27 PM

You wanna good laugh, check out this dude:

Obama’s New Energy Secretary: Global Warming “Not Debatable”…

slickwillie2001 on May 23, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Tolerant fellow he is as to disagreements over data — but I don’t see the leather elbow patches on his standard professorial garb. Those are pretty much mandatory.

65droptop on May 23, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Was Medea Benjamin invited to the POTUS speech today…?

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 3:16 PM

I would not be surprised if she was keeping an eye on it.

slickwillie2001 on May 23, 2013 at 3:27 PM

I think she was the woman continuously interrupting the POTUS speech today…he seemed mildly ruffled.

d1carter on May 23, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Holder argued that his recusal made Cole an acting AG for the purposes of this investigation, but that change of authority should have been recorded and noted.

“Deemed” comes to mind as a descriptor.

Hmmmmm……I wonder……”No, really, I filed my tax return verbally…although I can’t remember when”

BobMbx on May 23, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Some of the questions focused on Attorney General Eric Holder’s alleged decision to recuse himself from the investigation of the AP phone records

Corrected.

Socratease on May 23, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Did anyone else notice that the State Department spokesman did not answer the question as to whether Hillary Clinton knew about the Rosen search warrant? He danced away with a classic “I am answering another question while i pretend to answer the one you actually asked.”

pat on May 23, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Holder argued that his recusal made Cole an acting AGFALL GUY for the purposes of this investigation, but that change of authority should have been recorded and noted.

FIFY Holder.

GarandFan on May 23, 2013 at 6:35 PM