Confirmed: Eric Holder Personally Vetted Search Warrant for James Rosen’s Private Emails; Documents Reveal DOJ Wanted to Keep It Secret

TheBlaze’s Jason Howerton contributed to this report.

Attorney General Eric Holder personally vetted the search warrant for Fox News reporter James Rosen’s personal emails, the Justice Department confirmed Friday.

The DOJ “took great care in deciding that a search warrant was necessary in the Kim matter, vetting the decision at the highest levels of the Department, including discussions with the Attorney General,” the department said in a statement.

Read the DOJ’s full statement below:

“The Department takes seriously the First Amendment right to freedom of the press. In recognition of this, the Department took great care in deciding that a search warrant was necessary in the Kim matter, vetting the decision at the highest levels of the Department, including discussions with the Attorney General. After extensive deliberations, and after following all applicable laws, regulations and policies, the Department sought an appropriately tailored search warrant under the Privacy Protection Act. And a federal magistrate judge made an independent finding that probable cause existed to approve the search warrant.”

“Attorney General Holder understands the concerns that have been raised by the media and has initiated a reevaluation of existing Department policies and procedures. This review will include extensive engagement with representatives of the media. The Department must strike the appropriate balance between its obligation to enforce the laws preventing leaks of classified information and First Amendment rights, and, through a new media shield law and appropriate updates to the Department’s internal guidelines, we are committed to achieving that balance.”

In other words, Holder will soon be investigating himself and his department.

Additionally, documents revealing warrants and related materials for the email accounts of State Department adviser Stephen Kim and Rosen were unsealed this week after an 18-month delay. But more details are coming out regarding how and why these warrants for information were kept secret from Rosen.

Kim faces charges of leaking secret information about North Korea to Rosen, which spurred the investigation.

Rosen’s emails were seized, with a judge’s approval, as part of the prosecution of Kim. In addition to a delay unsealing the documents for warrants, there was also a delay unsealing chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Washington  Royce Lamberth’s 2010 order that the government wasn’t required to notify Rosen that his emails had been the subject of a warrant. Although that order was posted on the court’s website, it was not available on the public docket until now.

Lamberth apologized for these delays Wednesday this week saying a “series of administrative errors by the court’s staff” caused them.

The documents reveal that two judges had said the Justice Department was required to notify Rosen of the warrants, the New Yorker reported. But U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr., requested in 2010 that the court exercise its power to keep sealed the warrants and related documents in this case as there “exists an extraordinary situation and compelling government interest, which justify such a sealing.”

Ronald Machen, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, right, listens to a questions during a news conference in Washington, Tuesday, April 23, 2013. (Photo: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Machen also requested the court order Google not to notify Rosen of the warrant either.

Lambert overturned the two judges who declared the Rosen was to be notified of the warrants, granting Machen’s request that the documents remain sealed.

President Barack Obama said Thursday that the Justice Department will review the policy under which it obtains journalists’ records in investigations of the leak of government secrets.

Obama acknowledged he is “troubled by the possibility that leaks investigations may chill the investigative journalism” that he says holds government accountable and said he has expressed his concerns to Mr. Holder.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice May 15, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Holder faced questions on reports of the subpoena of two months worth of Associated Press journalists’ phone records and the Internal Revenue Services’ scrutiny of conservative organization’s tax exemption requests. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Holder personally approved the search warrant for Rosen’s emails as a “possible co-conspirator.”

Read more about the documents and see them in the New Yorker here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

(H/T: Mediaite)