|For Immediate Release
May 23, 2013
Contact: Kathryn Rexrode or Jessica Collins, (202) 225-3951
Judiciary Republicans to DOJ: Answers Needed on AP Email Subpoenas
Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) – along with several Judiciary Republicans – have sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General James Cole seeking answers to the many questions surrounding the Obama Administration’s decision to subpoena two months of telephone call records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press (AP) as part of a national security leaks investigation. Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he had recused himself from the investigation because he had been interviewed by the FBI in connection with the leaks and that the Deputy Attorney General had authorized the subpoenas in his place. Consequently, when Attorney General Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee for a routine oversight hearing on May 15, he provided little information about these subpoenas.
In addition to Chairman Goodlatte and Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner, the letter was signed by Reps. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), George Holding (R-N.C.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Ted Poe (R-Texas), and Lamar Smith (R-Texas).
Below are excerpts from the letter. To read the entire letter, click here.
At the House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, Attorney General Holder repeatedly stated that he could not answer questions about the subpoenas because he lacked any knowledge of the investigation due to his recusal. As Acting Attorney General for this investigation, you are in the best position to answer our questions in this matter. Therefore, please respond to the following questions as soon as possible, but by no later than May 31, 2013:
- On what date did Attorney General Holder recuse himself from this investigation?
- How did you learn of Attorney General Holder’s recusal? Did Attorney General Holder personally inform you of his intent to recuse himself from the investigation? Was his recusal made in writing or memorialized in any manner?
- Did every Justice Department official or employee who possessed the improperly disclosed information at issue in this investigation recuse themselves? Did every Department official or employee interviewed by the FBI in connection with this investigation recuse themselves from this investigation? Please provide a list of all Justice Department officials or employees who recused themselves from this investigation.
- Do you also possess the improperly disclosed information at issue in this investigation? If so, were you interviewed by the FBI in connection with this investigation?
- If you do possess the information at issue in this investigation, why were you not required to also recuse yourself? Please provide us with any and all applicable statutes, regulations or internal Justice Department policies that govern the recusal of a Department official or employee from an investigation
- Attorney General Holder testified that he was “95% percent certain, that the Deputy Attorney General, acting in my stead, was the one who authorized the subpoena.….” He then clarified that he believed you did personally approve the subpoena requests. Please confirm that you did, in fact, personally approve and sign the subpoena requests for AP telephone toll records.
- The Justice Department issued subpoenas for several telephone lines that are reportedly accessible to and used by a large number of reporters. What steps did the Department take, if any, to narrow the scope of the telephone toll records request to ensure that only those telephone toll records made by the subject reporters and staff were obtained?
- The Justice Department issued subpoenas for a telephone line located in the U.S. House of Representatives Press Gallery. Are there any statutes, regulations or internal Justice Department policies applicable to requests for telephone toll records for a telephone located inside the U.S. Capitol complex, even if such telephone line is paid for by a media outlet?
- 28 CFR §50.10(b) requires the Department to take all reasonable alternative investigative steps prior to obtaining telephone toll records pertaining to a member of the media. Please describe all of the alternative investigative steps the Department took in this investigation prior to issuing the subpoenas for the AP telephone toll records.
- It has been reported that the AP refrained from releasing the story of the Yemeni bomb plot for a week until Obama administration officials confirmed that doing so would not jeopardize national security interests. This indicates a willingness on the part of the AP to work with the Justice Department on issues affecting national security. 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 subpoenas?
- 28 CFR §50.10(d) requires prior notice to a media outlet where “the responsible Assistant Attorney General determines that such negotiations [with the media] would not pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation…” Is it the Department’s position that a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation existed in this instance? Please provide a detailed explanation of the facts and circumstances in this case that justified foregoing prior notice to the AP under the “substantial threat” exception.