Holder appoints two prosecutors to probe national security leaks

Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday appointed two U.S. Attorneys to head an investigation into a recent series of national security leaks.

Holder appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen Jr. and U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod Rosenstein to investigate and criminally prosecute “possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”

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“The unauthorized disclosure of classified information can compromise the security of this country and all Americans, and it will not be tolerated,” Holder said in a statement. “The Justice Department takes seriously cases in which government employees and contractors entrusted with classified information are suspected of willfully disclosing such classified information to those not entitled to it, and we will do so in these cases as well.”

The announcement of the two prosecutors comes as Republicans in Congress are calling for a special counsel to investigate the leaks independent of the Obama administration.

Republicans say that they are concerned the sources of the leaks could possibly influence an internal investigation.

Holder said he has notified the Judicial and Intelligence Committees about the appointments and will continue to provide more information, as appropriate.

One complication is that Machen is an Obama donor. Since 2000, Machen has donated $5,800 to Democrats or Democratic organizations — $4,350 went to Obama. All of the donations came before Machen was tapped by Obama to serve as U.S. attorney.

Republicans may seize on Machen's donations as they push for an independent probe.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) first called for a special counsel on Tuesday, and he’s also accused the White House of leaking information to help President Obama’s reelection chances.

Obama rejected McCain’s accusations in a news conference — calling them “offensive” — and the White House has flatly rejected congressional calls for a special counsel to investigate the leaks.

Rosenstein was appointed by former President George W. Bush and was among only three U.S. attorneys out of 93 nationwide that was kept on by Obama, according to a 2011 article by The Washington Post.

This article was updated at 9:40 p.m.