Republican Senators Criticize Holder Over Response to Leaks
(New York Times) WASHINGTON — Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday strongly criticized the recent decision by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to appoint two United States attorneys to investigate recent disclosures of classified national security information, saying that the move was not enough and that he should appoint a special prosecutor.
At a committee hearing, the Republican senators — led by Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — accused the administration of leaking the information and said Mr. Holder was trying to shield the Obama administration from the scrutiny of a prosecutor who would be completely independent of the Justice Department.
Mr. Graham said an excerpt recently published by The New York Times from the book “Confront and Conceal” by David E. Sanger, a Times correspondent, about cyberattacks by United States against Iran had convinced him that “there are clearly people around the president who are leaking stories that involve highly classified information.”
“The concern we have is that you’ve got one program, Fast and Furious, that has been an embarrassment for the administration, and it’s been like pulling teeth to get information about Fast and Furious, who did what and when, ” he said, referring to Operation Fast and Furious, a bungled gun trafficking case.
“But when you have programs on the national security front that seem to show the president as a strong leader, you read about it in the paper. So my concern, I think, is that a lot of us believe if there was ever a need for an outside special counsel, it is now. What do you say?”
Mr. Holder said the two United States attorneys he appointed — Ronald C. Machen, the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, and Rod J. Rosenstein, his counterpart in Maryland — were exemplary prosecutors and, like all federal authorities, had the freedom to pursue the evidence wherever it led.
“I think you are missing something here,” Mr. Holder said, but was interrupted by Mr. Graham.
“I think you are missing something here,” Mr. Graham said in a stern tone. “I think you are missing the fact that this is a very big deal, and you are handling it in a way that creates suspicion where there should not be.
“And all I’m asking for is for you to find a lawyer in this country that we all of could say — virtually all of us — could say that is the right person to do this job, rather than you picking two people and telling us how great they are. I don’t know these people from Adam’s house cat.”
Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, was particularly critical of Mr. Holder and called on him to resign over his handling of Operation Fast and Furious, the leak investigations and lack of leadership.
Mr. Holder said he would not resign.
Earlier in the hearing, Mr. Holder said he was willing to make “compromises” with members of Congress about information they have subpoenaed about Fast and Furious. Mr. Holder said that such a compromise would avoid “an impending constitutional crisis” if the House oversight committee votes on June 20 to recommend that the full House hold Mr. Holder in contempt.
Also Tuesday, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, introduced a Congressional resolution calling on Mr. Holder to appoint an outside special counsel to investigate the disclosures. All 18 of the resolution’s co-sponsors were Republicans.
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