Hoyer backs embattled Holder, rips Issa for calling press secretary a liar

The second-ranking House Democrat on Tuesday gave an enthusiastic endorsement to Attorney General Eric Holder, saying he has done his job “in exemplary fashion” in face of calls by Republicans for his resignation.

“I have no concerns about Mr. Holder,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters. “I think Attorney General Holder is handling himself and his job in exemplary fashion. I think he’s an excellent attorney general.”

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Hoyer was asked about Holder in the context of his response to the disclosure that the Justice Department seized phone records from The Associated Press and obtained a warrant to monitor emails of a Fox News reporter in connection with a national security leak investigation. A growing number of Republicans have called on Holder to step down, and the New York Times reported earlier this week that some Democrats privately want him out as well.

A senior Senate Democrat, Charles Schumer (N.Y.), backed Holder in a television appearance on Sunday.

Hoyer also sharply criticized Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, for referring to White House press secretary Jay Carney as a “paid liar” over the weekend.

“I think that was an outrageous statement, and he ought to apologize or retract that statement unless he has specific evidence, which I don’t believe he does,” Hoyer said. “It was a reckless statement, and it undermines his presentation as someone who is a judicious leader of oversight.”

Earlier Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) deflected questions about Issa’s charge, saying only that Republicans would continue to conduct oversight on what he termed an “abuse of trust” by the Obama administration.