Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus on Tuesday demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder resign after the Justice Department’s seizure of phone records for reporters working for The Associated Press.
“Attorney General Eric Holder, in permitting the Justice Department to issue secret subpoenas to spy on Associated Press reporters, has trampled on the First Amendment and failed in his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution," said Priebus in a statement.
Priebus’s statement came after The Associated Press reported on Monday that federal prosecutors had secretly obtained months of phone records for journalists, in what the news agency called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.”
The DOJ subpoenas covered AP offices in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and included more than 20 office, home and cellphone lines. The government has not said why they sought those phone records.
The action has drawn criticism from all corners, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) saying he was “very troubled” by the allegations.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that the White House had "no knowledge" of Justice's actions, the latest headache for an administration already dealing with questions about the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups and congressional probes into its handling of the Benghazi, Libya, Consulate attack.
"Freedom of the press is an essential right in a free society. The First Amendment doesn't request the federal government to respect it; it demands it,” said Priebus on Tuesday.