Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday accused the Justice Department (DOJ) of targeting reporters who are critical of the Obama administration.
“We have seen a consistent pattern in this administration, and the pattern is a willingness to use the machinery of government to target those they perceive as their political enemies,” Cruz said on Fox News.
The DOJ has been under fire for pursuing national security leaks by subpoenaing reporter phone records and using other aggressive measures to monitor the activity of journalists believed to be in contact with sources of sensitive information.
Cruz’s assertion, however, is the first time a lawmaker has suggested publicly that the White House is cracking down on reporters over critical media coverage.
The leaks controversy, along with the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, has fueled congressional anger.
The Justice Department seized phone records from Associated Press reporters and examined phone and email records from a Fox News reporter, James Rosen, in two separate probes.
GOP lawmakers are also investigating if Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress when he discussed the controversy and denied knowledge of any efforts on DOJ’s part to prosecute journalists for national security leaks.
In the Rosen investigation, federal authorities dubbed him an “an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in the leak, in a document signed by Holder.
The DOJ has since said it never intended to prosecute Rosen.
There has been no suggestion that the DOJ targeted the reporters for being critical of the administration, and if evidence were to surface to suggest otherwise, it would likely ignite a new set of investigations into the activities of the department.
White House spokesman Jay Carney has in the past publicly jousted with Fox News, saying the right-leaning nature of the channel’s programming has unfairly portrayed the administration in a negative light.
President Obama has also joked about not getting a fair shake from the channel on several occasions.
Cruz on Monday said the DOJ controversy was just the latest from an administration he said had regularly exceeded its powers.
“This administration has been willing to disregard the constitution, disregard the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, the Fourth and Fifth Amendments with drone policy, to set aside the constraints of the law for partisan ends,” said Cruz.
“The result of it has been that the people’s trust in the integrity of government has been undermined, and it hadn’t been helped by the fact that the administration has been willing to mislead the American people. It hasn’t been candid. I think the president needs to tell the truth."