Amid a furor over a Justice Department subpoena of Associated Press phone records and an investigation of leaks to Fox News correspondent James Rosen, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the third-ranking senator in the Democratic leadership, voiced confidence in Attorney General Eric Holder on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday.
“I haven’t seen anything that would prevent him from continuing to do his job,” Schumer told NBC’s David Gregory. “The president has confidence in Holder and I believe he’s going to stay,” the New York Democrat said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer joins Meet the Press to discuss the current controversy plaguing the Justice Department and detail provisions of his legislation that would offer greater protections to the press.
In the Rosen case, Schumer said, “I don’t think there’s perjury” in what Holder told the House Judiciary Committee last month when the attorney general said that he doubted it would “wise policy” to prosecute news media organizations for publishing classified information in the national security leaks case.
Holder also said in that testimony that "the focus should be on those people who break their oaths and put the American people at risk, not reporters who gather this information."
Schumer pointed out that there has been no attempted prosecution of Rosen and any other journalist.
But some Republicans have asked whether Holder misled the House committee, because Rosen had been named a co-conspirator in an investigation of State Department leaks.
Commenting on Meet the Press on Holder and the far-reaching Justice Department probe of Associated Press reporters in a national security leaks case, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers said, “I think that dragnet they threw out over those AP reporters was more than an over-reach—and it really is not very good investigative work.” A good investigation would have narrowed the list of targeted reporters, the Michigan Republican said.
But Rogers, a former FBI agent, also stressed that “these leaks are serious and for those folks (in the executive branch) who are leaking information that may lead to the death of sources, or of people who are cooperating with the United States, or men and women who serving in combat –there should be consequences for that.”
Rogers said “this pattern of deception administration-wide is starting to become concerning,” referring to the Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of conservative groups, the administration’s explanation of the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi last year, and the AP probe, Rogers said the administration risked losing Americans’ trust in their government.
Commenting on Holder, House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R- Va., said on "Fox News Sunday'' that, "We're investigating the conflict in his remarks" to the committee at its May 15 hearing. "Those remarks were made under oath, but we also think it’s very important that the attorney general be afforded the opportunity to respond, so we will wait to pass judgment on that until we receive his response."
To some degree, the controversies over leaks and over the Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of conservative groups have diverted news media attention from President Obama’s legislative agenda.
Gregory asked Schumer – a leader in the bipartisan Gang of Eight effort in the Senate to pass an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws -- whether the leaks and the IRS controversy have sapped support for immigration reform.
Schumer said, “We’re going to put immigration on the (Senate) floor starting on June 10. I predict it will pass the Senate by July 4. We are hoping to get 70 votes, up to 70 votes, which means a lot of Republicans. And we’re willing to entertain amendments that don’t damage the core principles of the bill, but improve the bill – just as we did in (the Judiciary) committee.”
He added, “These so-called scandals have not diverted us one iota” from the immigration overhaul. When the bill goes to the House, Schumer said, “If we can come out of the Senate with close to a majority of the Republican senators and almost every Democrat, that may change the equation in the House and the thinking in the House among mainstream Republicans, and they may want to go for our bill.”
He also said in the 2014 campaign the GOP was at risk of over-emphasizing the IRS and other controversies and likened next year’s election to 1998 when Republicans counted on the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal to make gains and ended up losing seats in the House.
This story was originally published on Sun Jun 2, 2013 10:34 AM EDT