As the saying goes, when all else fails feign ignorance and that is what Attorney General Eric Holder did during his questioning by the House Judiciary Committee yesterday afternoon. For much of the afternoon Eric Holder seemed unfazed and extremely ignorant to what his Department of Justice is doing when asked about the recent AP scandal. In the wake of both the IRS and AP scandals, he went as far as not even mentioning the two most recent issues in his opening statement.
Holder seemed to regard this ignorance as a shield protecting him and the Justice Department from all criticism of the Obama administration’s assault on press freedoms. But his claim that his “recusal” from the case exempted him from all discussion of the matter didn’t fly with Republicans or Democrats on the committee, who justifiably saw his recusal as more of an abdication.
“I realize there are exceptions and that you have recused yourself, but it seems to me clear that the actions of the department have, in fact, impaired the First Amendment,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) told Holder. “Reporters who might have previously believed that a confidential source would speak to them would no longer have that level of confidence, because those confidential sources are now going to be chilled in their relationship with the press.”
Although, the law requires that the Attorney General of the United States sign off on all subpoenas related to press monitoring, Holder states that he allowed Deputy Attorney General James Cole to sign off on this one because of his recusal. Time and again he rephrased his “I don’t know” answer to almost every question. To top it off, there is no identifying timeline or formal written recusal by Holder.
The AP and IRS scandals were not the only items on yesterday’s agenda. When asked about 1200 emails Tom Perez, the Obama administration’s nominee for Labor Secretary, wrote related to DOJ matters in a private account, Eric Holder became disgruntled and lashed out at Chairman Darrell Issa calling his questioning “unacceptable” and “shameful” while taking the Chairman’s time.
As we saw yesterday as well as in the past, this Attorney General seems to be playing games with the American people, the press, and the First Amendment all while feigning ignorance and throwing tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. RNC Chairman Reince Prebuis was right in asking for Eric Holder’s resignation even if the Holder doesn't see it that way.