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Holder says he has 'no intention' of stepping down

By Carol Cratty and Joe Johns, CNN
updated 8:19 AM EDT, Thu June 6, 2013
The Justice Department has said Eric Holder's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee was 'accurate and consistent.'
The Justice Department has said Eric Holder's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee was 'accurate and consistent.'
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Holder gives brief response to Republicans on leak investigation
  • NEW: AG says previous response from deputy accurately portrayed his views
  • Dispute centers on whether Holder was truthful in congressional testimony
  • Controversy centers on scrutiny of journalist in national security leak probe

Washington (CNN) -- Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday he has "no intention" of stepping down in the face of criticism over Justice Department handling of national security leak investigations that involved scrutiny of reporters.

Holder made the comment to NBC News.

He also sent a brief response to House Judiciary Committee Republicans who demanded a direct explanation from him no later than Wednesday regarding a statement he made about reporters and national security leaks.

They sent a May 29 letter to Holder asking a series of questions about his comments and his role in authorizing searches of a journalist's e-mails, but were angry when they got an initial response from a deputy.

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Holder said the June 3 letter from Peter Kadzik, principal deputy assistant attorney general and the senior official in the Office of Legislative Affairs, accurately portrayed his own views and the department's policies on leak investigations.

Holder said it is normal practice to have Kadzik get back to members of Congress and "was not intended to demonstrate disrespect in any way."

Search warrants questioned in Fox News leaks case

The case pressed by lawmakers and a second controversy about subpoenas for Associated Press phone records as part of another leak investigation have generated sharp political controversy in Washington,

For Republicans, Holder has been a political lightning rod in the Obama administration and there have been some calls for him to step down or be fired.

The White House has expressed confidence in Holder and the attorney general told NBC that he has "no intention" of leaving now.

However, he indicated before the latest controversy that he was unlikely to stay for a full second presidential term.

Lawmakers have claimed investigative overreach by the Obama administration and media outlets have expressed concern about the potential chilling effect of such efforts on press freedoms.

It was not clear Wednesday night how Republicans would respond to Holder's short answer.

Earlier in the day, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah told CNN's Joe Johns the Judiciary Committee might call him back for more testimony.

The dispute centers on whether Holder was truthful during May 15 congressional testimony to that panel.

Holder has come under fire for saying that he has never been involved with the "potential prosecution of the press," despite authorizing a search warrant for e-mails and subpoenas for phone records in a national security leak case involving a Fox News reporter.

A court document in the case said the reporter was suspected of breaking the law.

A May 2010 affidavit detailed the effort involving the e-mail account of Fox reporter James Rosen. He was not charged in the leak investigation although the document referred to him as a possible co-conspirator.

The only person charged was Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who allegedly leaked a classified report concerning North Korea to Rosen.

According to the document, the government believed Kim had destroyed some possibly incriminating e-mails and the government hoped to find those in the reporter's inbox.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte has given interviews suggesting Holder might not have been truthful when he testified to the committee.

Kadzik told the panel in his letter on Monday that Holder had been "accurate and consistent" and added prosecutors had never tried to bring charges against the reporter.

Holder told NBC the language suggesting a reporter might be a co-conspirator was legally required to get a search warrant.

"I don't like that because it means that me as a government official with great respect for the press is in essence saying that a reporter who is doing his or her job, doing that very important job is somehow branded a criminal and I'm just not comfortable with that," said Holder.

He said he plans to change that.

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