Top Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have "great concern" over the possibility that Attorney General Eric Holder lied during sworn testimony this month about the Justice Department's monitoring of reporters.
Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said in a letter to Holder on Wednesday that the attorney general's testimony that he was unaware of any "potential prosecution of the press" conflicted with subsequent media reports that the Justice Department had obtained emails and phone records of Fox News reporter James Rosen.
“The media reports and statements issued by the Department regarding the search warrants for Mr. Rosen’s emails appear to be at odds with your sworn testimony before the Committee," the letter states. "We believe – and we hope you will agree – it is imperative that the Committee, the Congress, and the American people be provided a full and accurate account of your involvement in and approval of these search warrants."
The May 15 hearing was held after the revelation that the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed a massive haul of Associated Press phone records, but before the investigation involving Rosen came to light. The letter comes one day after the committee confirmed it is investigating whether Holder misled Congress during his testimony.
The Justice Department did not immediately comment on the letter, but Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who had been questioning Holder when he made the remarks in question, said Holder's answer was specific to using the Espionage Act to prosecute any members of the media.
“The attorney general’s statement that no journalists have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act during his tenure is accurate,” Johnson told The Hill.
The White House on Wednesday defended Holder from accusations that he lied under oath, with press secretary Jay Carney telling reporters it seemed "self-evident" that Holder told the truth.
“Based on the published reports that I have seen, I have seen no conflict between what the attorney general said and published reports," Carney said.