President Obama is probably having a TGIF sort of day: His speech on drone policy and the war on terror left everyone with more questions than answers. Now, former IRS head Doug Shulman has discussed visiting the White House 118 times in two years. In light of this, it is beyond the reach of human imagination to suggest that the President was unaware of IRS targeting of Tea Party groups. If those two issues weren’t headache enough, Obama now faces, probably, the biggest embarrassment of his Presidency – so far: United States Attorney General Eric Holder has committed perjury and will have to resign.
Perjury is commonly thought of as lying under oath. This is not strictly true; perjury is the act of knowingly swearing a false oath, as when one swears to tell the truth whilst being fully aware that they have no intention of doing so. During the hearings on Operation Fast and Furious – the Justice Department’s (DoJ) disastrous gun-running scheme between the U.S. and Mexico – Eric Holder stated clearly that he had no personal knowledge of the operation until just shortly before the it came to light. Emails obtained by Congress later revealed that direct Justice Department involvement in what was, essentially, an operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was greater than had been previously admitted. Republicans were reluctant to go after Holder himself and maintained that they had seen no direct evidence of his personal involvement with Fast and Furious.
This time around, Holder has clearly perjured himself: The first step was when he personally gave sworn testimony at a congressional hearing on Justice Department oversight. The second step came during the hearing itself. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) tiptoed around the subject of the Justice Department’s probe of the Associated Press (AP). Johnson devoted considerable time to playing the role of apologist; suggesting that it was perfectly fine for members of the press to be investigated if national security was at stake. He was persistent in his attempt to put words into Holder’s mouth, whereupon the Attorney General completely confounded him with the following statement: “with regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material, that is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of or would think would be wise policy.”
According to an NBC report, however, the Justice Department has acknowledged that a search warrant for Fox reporter James Rosen’s personal email account had high-level approval, including “discussions” with the Attorney General. Clearly, then, Holder was aware of – and approved – the search warrant. The warrant itself was issued as part of an ongoing investigation into a possible leak of information sensitive to national security. Therefore, when Holder said, under oath, that “…potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material…is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of…,” he committed perjury. During the same hearing, Holder went on to explain his intention of going after those who leak information to the press, rather than prosecuting members of the press themselves. The leak investigation was not targeted directly at Rosen, but, rather, at former intelligence analyst Stephen Kim. Kim has now been indicted for leaking classified information to Rosen. Holder’s problem lies in his use of the word “potential”; the Justice Department probe of Rosen could have “potentially” lead to, in Holder’s words “prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material.” Holder has, indeed, been involved in the matter, despite saying that it was not something he had “…ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.”
The Rosen affair comes directly on the heels of revelations that the DoJ seized the phone records of Associated Press reporters; also a “potential” case of “prosecution of the press.”
Calls are mounting for Holder to step down or be fired. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) told CBS’s “Face the Nation” “I think it’s past time for him to go and for the president to appoint somebody who the public can have confidence in,” Republican Chairman Reince Priebus was one of the first to call for Holder’s resignation, according to a report in the British Daily Mail. “Attorney General Eric Holder, in permitting the Justice Department to issue secret subpoenas to spy on Associated Press reporters, has trampled on the First Amendment and failed in his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution” he said.
It is not just Republicans who want Holder out: According to the same Daily Mail report, Keith Olbermann, a former host on the failed Current TV channel, tweeted “’If Mr. Holder continues to support this rogue action, he should resign.” The far Left Huffington Post also carried the headline “TIME TO GO” with a picture of Holder beneath it.
The Obama administration has shown itself, on more than one occasion, to be remarkably tone-deaf and, one could say, arrogant, when responding to the numerous scandals that have plagued Obama’s presidency; most of which have been swept under the rug by many of the same media organizations now, apparently, so outraged by the DoJ’s actions. In this case, however, Eric Holder has lost any shred of credibility he ever had and it is extremely difficult to imagine that he will remain at his post for very much longer.
Written by Graham J Noble