To my knowledge, Karl Rove was the first commentator to focus attention on a massive problem from which even Eric (“Nine Lives”) Holder may not be able to escape. Two weeks ago, testifying under oath before the House Judiciary Committee, Holder was asked whether the Justice Department could prosecute reporters under the Espionage Act of 1917. His response (emphasis added) was:
In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material — this is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.
When he gave this testimony, Holder had personally signed a request to a court to authorize a wiretap on Fox News reporter James Rosen. The request stated that Rosen may have acted as “an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” by obtaining national security materials from a government official also under investigation.
Bill Otis confirms that during his days as a federal prosecutor, telling the court that a wiretap target might have been an aider, abettor or co-conspirator in a serious federal crime “was most assuredly vouching that there was a potential prosecution of that target.”
Did Holder forget that he had signed the request to wiretap Rosen? I don’t see how he could have. Such requests, when they involve members of the press, are something any Attorney General would remember.
As much as President Obama must hate the notion of throwing Holder — a soul mate in ideology and ruthless disregard for the law — overboard, it’s difficult to see how the Attorney General survives this one.
Perjury may be, as Richard Nixon once said, “an awful hard rap to prove.” But even Obama may not require proof of perjury beyond reasonable doubt when it comes to the Attorney General of the United States.