House Republicans confirmed Sunday they are investigating Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. for perjury, while Sen. John McCain suggested he consider resigning in the wake of accusations that he lied to Congress about the probe of a journalist.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, told “Fox News Sunday” that his May 29 letter to Mr. Holder asks “some very pointed questions” about the conflict between his testimony denying any involvement in the probe of Fox News reporter James Rosen and the later disclosure that he sought a search warrant.
“Yes, it is fair to say we are investigating the conflict in his remarks,” Mr. Goodlatte said. “Those remarks were made under oath. But we also think it’s very important that the attorney general be afforded the opportunity to respond.”
Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Mr. Holder’s statements and actions need to be “thoroughly investigated.”
“Certainly the timing is problematic for the attorney general,” Mr. Rogers said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think you need to lay out exactly what the testimony was, exactly the timeline when he signed and checked off that they should move forward in naming him [Mr. Rosen] as a co-conspirator.”
Mr. McCain, asked on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation,” whether the attorney general should resign, said such a decision must be left to Mr. Holder, but that he should give it serious consideration.
“I am more than happy to give him that opportunity to explain the obvious contradictions between his statements of not having anything to do with these investigations and the obvious fact that he did,” said the Arizona Republican. “But I also think that 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.”
Defending Mr. Holder was Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, who said, “I haven’t seen anything that would prevent him from continuing to do his job.”
“Obviously, if there’s wrongdoing we should find out who did it, but the president has confidence in Holder and I believe he’s going to stay,” Mr. Schumer said on “Meet the Press.”
Mr. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee on May 15 that he knew nothing about the “potential prosecution” of a journalist, but media reports surfaced afterward stating that in May 2010 he had approved a request for a search warrant for Mr. Rosen’s emails.
Democrats argued Sunday that there was no perjury because the Justice Department never intended to file charges against Mr. Rosen, even though one of the requirements for such a warrant is a finding of probable cause that the target has committed a crime.
“I don’t think there’s perjury. There’s been no prosecution or attempted prosecution of any journalist, so there can’t be any perjury,” Mr. Schumer said. “The warrant is a tool to get information, and I don’t think the two are contradictory. I don’t think any good criminal lawyer would say there’s a scintilla of evidence of perjury.”
Rep. Chris van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the Rosen investigation wasn’t necessarily directed at filing charges.
“That’s the whole issue here, that they were never intending to prosecute him,” Mr. van Hollen said. “They were trying to collect information in a case that involved a leak of important national security information that compromised sources and methods.”
Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, stopped short on CNN’s “State of the Union,” of accusing Mr. Holder of purposely misleading Congress, but he said his credibility had taken a hit.
“It’s hard to have confidence in what this attorney general says — or his people say — when so often it turns out not to be true,” said Mr. Issa, who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.