Charles Krauthammer played devil’s advocate on Fox News’ Special Report last night, using the latest defense of Eric Holder from Department of Justice apologists that Holder never really intended to prosecute James Rosen and so didn’t lie to Congress. Never mind that Holder told Congress that he’d “never been involved in, heard of” such a strategy, which was clearly proven false by his signature on the warrant application. That argument essentially claims that Holder signed off on a false representation to three federal courts, a “damning” defense (via NRO):
“Their defense is, ‘It was a ruse. We didn’t really want to prosecute him,’” Krauthammer explained, “which is probably true, because it’s never been successfully done.”
“They did it as a ruse in order to put Rosen in a separate category,” he said, ”because if you are a co-conspirator . . . then it allows you to do all kinds of things to his e-mail, to his communication — personal and professional — that you can’t if he’s a journalist.”
The Justice Department’s argument — that it knew Rosen was not a criminal, but pretended like he was for its convenience — is, says Krauthammer, “damning.”
This is why it’s called a perjury trap. The only difference in this case is that Holder sprung it on himself. Officers of the court — and the Attorney General certainly falls into that category — cannot deliberately make false representations on material matters either in court or in submissions to a court and remain attorneys for very long. It’s entirely possible that Holder could face prosecution for both statements. (For more on the perjury charge, see John Hinderaker’s explanation at Power Line, excerpted by me in the Green Room.)
Nick Gillespie and I both wonder in separate columns today why Holder is still around. At the Daily Beast, Nick argues that Holder’s value as a lightning rod to keep scandal away from Obama has long since passed. That’s obvious to everyone but the one person who matters, however:
As Michael A. Walsh notes in the New York Post, Holder is directly involved in essentially every aspect of President Obama’s second-term scandalpalooza. Not only did he sign off on the search warrant for Fox News’s James Rosen’s personal emails, he is at the center of questions over the state’s broad surveillance of the AP, an operation that has raised hackles across the political spectrum regarding First Amendment issues and civil-liberties concerns. (Holder did himself no favors by recusing himself from the AP case in vague and uncertain terms). Walsh notes that “even the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups for special scrutiny—[finds its] nexus at the top of the Justice Department.”
Such conservative ire is nothing new. Less than a year ago, congressional Republicans—along with 17 Democrats—voted to hold Holder in contempt for failing to deliver documents and testimony related to the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking operation directed out an Arizona office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which answers to the attorney general. Although timed to the confirmation vote of CIA Director John Brennan, Sen. Rand Paul’s epic filibuster in March was specifically targeted at Holder’s refusal to give a simple answer to questions about the use of domestic drones. Now the House Judiciary Committee is reportedly looking to investigate whether Holder perjured himself before Congress in relation to the press probes.
But it’s not just right-wingers who are up in arms over Holder. Apart from his casual approach to civil liberties and the First Amendment, folks on the left are livid that the attorney general can find no one on Wall Street to perp-walk directly from the corner offices of JPMorgan into federal prison. Progressive senators such as Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are asking the DOJ exactly when “too big to fail” morphed into “too big to jail.” Pathetically, Holder told Congress that he is daunted by the size of the institutions he is investigating and that the sheer bigness of financial institutions “has an inhibiting influence—impact on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate … I think that is something that we—you all—need to consider.”
Holder’s political juice has all but evaporated. As I write for The Fiscal Times today, that raises questions about why Obama seems so intent on keeping Holder in place, even though Holder had planned to leave in a few months anyway:
The effort to protect Eric Holder seems far out of alignment with his value to the administration at this point. Obama had a perfect opportunity to dump Holder at the time of the Fast and Furious contempt citation, and again at the second-term transition. Instead, Holder said he’d stick around for another year, which means he would only have a few months left at best.
While a confirmation hearing for a new AG in the middle of this scandal would be uncomfortable at best, it won’t get any easier – and that’s assuming that Rosen is the only journalist that the DOJ and Holder have accused in secret warrant applications of espionage, a dicey assumption at best now.
The easiest path for the White House would be for Obama to announce that Justice needs a clean start to rebuild confidence and that Holder will leave to allow for a new appointee to lead that effort. That, as noted earlier, is why presidents have cabinet officials in the first place – and the longer Obama clings to Holder, the more questions it raises about what the White House gains by his presence and fears in his departure.
Finally, Michael Ramirez may have the answer to this conundrum. With Holder in place, Obama has less to fear than he would from a truly independent Department of Justice:
Also, be sure to check out Ramirez’ terrific collection of his works: Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion, which covers the entire breadth of Ramirez’ career, and it gives fascinating look at political history. Read my review here, and watch my interviews with Ramirez here and here. And don’t forget to check out the entire Investors.com site, which has now incorporated all of the former IBD Editorials, while individual investors still exist.