Holder dodges GOP subpoena

Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to meet with House Republicans as part of their probe into whether he misled Congress or acted inappropriately in the Justice Department’s investigation of two separate leaks to media outlets.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) made the announcement late Friday after exchanging several weeks worth of testy letters with the nation’s top cop.

In agreeing to meet with the lawmakers, Holder staved off the threat of a subpoena from Goodlatte for a second time in as many weeks.

Goodlatte is investigating whether Holder misled the committee last month when he testified that, under his leadership, the DOJ has never sought to prosecute a journalist.

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Republicans argue that his remarks are at odds with a warrant application that Holder approved citing Fox News reporter James Rosen as a criminal co-conspirator in the DOJ's investigation of an alleged leak of classified information from the State Department.  

“We have agreed to afford the attorney general the opportunity to fully answer the original questions we sent him regarding his May 15th testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and to meet with him so he can further clarify the actions of the Justice Department regarding the search warrant they obtained for reporter James Rosen’s emails,” said Goodlatte on Friday.  

“The American people and Congress deserve answers on this important matter and accountability from Attorney General Holder. We expect to have all our questions answered completely.” 

The allegations against Holder took a turn this week when FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before the Judiciary panel that, as a former prosecutor, it was not unusual for a warrant application to implicate a person in connection with a suspected crime while not seeking to eventually bring charges against them.

“Quite often in search warrants or affidavits in support of search warrants, there are occasions where a person will be mentioned as having culpability, but there will be no discussion or anticipation of prosecution,” Mueller testified on Thursday

Two weeks ago Goodlatte and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) asked Holder to give them more details about his role in the DOJ’s secret examination of Rosen’s phone and e-mail records and whether the DOJ intended to prosecute the reporter.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik wrote the lawmakers two letters in response, saying that at no time did the DOJ aim to bring charges against Rosen. 

But the lawmakers dismissed the letters, saying that they wanted a direct response from Holder and not Kadzik, who handles legislative relations for Justice. Sensenbrenner called the first letter from Kadzik “insulting.”   

Last week, Holder responded personally to Goodlatte and Sensenbrenner, saying that Kadzik’s letters accurately reflect the DOJ's positions. The attorney general told the lawmakers he did not mean to disrespect them by not responding directly.

By responding directly, Holder avoided being subpoenaed by the committee.

Goodlatte also came close to subpoenaing Holder earlier this year on a separate matter dealing with the panel’s access to the administration’s legal justification for killing American terrorists abroad. The committee was eventually granted access to those documents.

A date and time for the meeting between Holder and the committee has not yet been set.