Attorney General Eric Holder has “no intention” of stepping down as a result of mounting controversy surrounding leak investigations involving journalists, he told NBC News last night.
“There’s some things that I want to do, some things I want to get done. I’ve discussed that with the president,” Holder told correspondent Pete Williams. “Once I have finished that, I’ll sit down with him and we’ll determine when it’s time to make a transition to a new attorney general.”
Williams followed up, asking Holder directly: “But to be clear, you’re not stepping down now?”
“No, I have no intention of doing so now,” the Attorney General responded.
The drumbeat for his resignation has intensified in recent days with leading Republicans, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) saying they did not believe the Attorney General could continue to effectively do his job.
“The attorney general has to ask himself the question: ‘Is he really able to effectively serve the president of the United States and the American people under the present circumstances?’ That’s a decision he’d have to make,” McCain said during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Addressing the leak investigation scandal, Holder said last night that he was worried that recent probes, including the seizure of AP phone records and the search warrant that labeled Fox News reporter James Rosen a criminal co-conspirator, had “gotten a little out of whack.”
“I think we can do a better job than we have,” he said. “We can reform those regulations, reform those guidelines to better reflect that balance.”
Last night, the Justice Department released a letter that Holder sent to Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee responding to their request for clarification about testimony he gave last month regarding his knowledge of the criminal investigation into Rosen.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and crime, terrorism, homeland security, and investigations subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) said earlier in the week they were unsatisfied with department’s answer to their inquiry, sent in a letter to Holder on May 29.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik had originally responded on behalf of Holder in a letter in which he defended the Attorney General’s congressional testimony as “accurate and consistent with these facts.”
But Goodlatte and Sensenbrenner were dissatisfied with the response and sent a follow-up letter saying “we expect the Attorney General to respond fully, in writing, to our letter by close of business on Wednesday.”
“Mr. Kadzik’s response on behalf of the department was consistent with the department’s long-standing practice of corresponding with members of Congress and was not intended to demonstrate disrespect in any way,” Holder said in his personal reply.
The Attorney General also reiterated his invitation for the lawmakers to attend an off-the-record meeting at the Department of Justice as part of his review of DOJ’s guidelines for handling leak investigations involving members of the media.
Holder is set to arrive on the Hill later this morning for a previously scheduled hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee to discuss the department’s FY14 budget.