By Jeremy Herb and Jordy Yager - 06/12/12 03:29 PM EDT
Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderPodesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs Payback: Dems see chance to boot Issa Trump was right — Clinton's email case needs a special prosecutor MORE told a Senate panel on Tuesday that Justice Department investigators have interviewed both him and FBI Director Robert Mueller in its probe of national security leaks from the White House.
The leaks have centered around a drone target "kill list" and a cyberattack on Iran.
Holder last week appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate a series of national security leaks that have provoked bipartisan criticism from Congress, with members in both parties saying they are the worst series of leaks in memory.
The decision to appoint the U.S. attorneys and not a special counsel has been criticized by Republicans, some of whom have accused the administration of using the leaks to highlight President Obama's national security credentials ahead of his reelection effort.
Obama last week said it was outrageous to say the leaks were done for a political purpose.
Holder defended his department’s ability to be independent as it investigates the leaks in the face of Republican calls for a special counsel.
Holder said the two U.S. attorneys he appointed will “follow leads wherever they are, whether in the executive branch or other component of government."
“This committee and the American people can have great faith in the two people I've asked to lead this investigation,” Holder said.
Holder's comments are unlikely to mollify Republicans who want a special counsel to be appointed.
Sen. John McCainJohn McCainIs Georgia turning blue? High anxiety for GOP Trump: 'Very disappointed' GOP senator dropped support MORE (R-Ariz.) will introduce a nonbinding resolution pressing for a special counsel on Tuesday.
“I believe the only way to truly get to the bottom of these dangerous leaks is to appoint an independent special prosecutor,” said Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyReport: Investor visa program mainly funds wealthy areas Cotton not ruling out 2020 White House bid Ben Stein revives ‘Ferris Bueller’ role for Grassley ad MORE (R-Iowa.).
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamHigh anxiety for GOP NYC mayor: Trump sounds like ‘a third-world dictator’ Five takeaways from final debate MORE (R-S.C.), who supports McCain's resolution, said: "If there was ever a need for an outside special counsel, it is now.”
But Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinAirbnb foes mobilize in Washington Top Dem: Russia trying to elect Trump Sanders, Dem senators press Obama to halt ND pipeline MORE (D-Calif.), who also sits on Judiciary, said Tuesday that she would oppose McCain’s resolution and did not believe a special counsel was necessary.
“To have a fight over how we do this now will set back any leak investigation,” Feinstein said. “These are two scrupulous men, they are both independent, and I have no reason to believe why they can’t work with the FBI and assemble a very strong prosecution team where warranted.”
Holder said that a special counsel would take too much time to set up, and that appointing two U.S. attorneys, Maryland’s Rod Rosenstein and D.C.’s Ronald Machen Jr., was the best course.
“The need is for us to operate with some degree of haste and speed,” Holder said. “That’s why I picked two really good U.S. attorneys.”