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Rangel: Obama hasn’t fully explained DOJ phone records seizure

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that the Obama administration had failed to provide an adequate explanation for the Justice Department’s seizure of Associated Press reporters’ phone records.

“I don’t think anyone truly believes that the president has given a sufficient answer for America, much less the press,” Rangel said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

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“I think this is just the beginning … the president has to come forward and share why he did not alert the press that they were going to do this, and he has to tell America, including me, what was this national security question,” he added.

Attorney General Eric Holder will face questions Wednesday on Capitol Hill about his decision to recuse himself from the DOJ’s decision to seize the phone records. But Holder characterized the DOJ’s actions as necessary to investigate a national security threat, saying it was provoked by “a very serious leak.”

Rangel said Wednesday that conservative attempts to liken the DOJ’s actions to the legacy of former President Nixon were wrong, but that the White House needs to justify its actions to maintain the public’s faith.

“The whole idea of comparing this with Nixon, I really think it just doesn’t make much sense,” Rangel said. “But you can’t just raise the flag and ask us to salute it every time without any reason.

“He has to come forward and give more of an answer than he has done. He can’t just use national defense as a shield or use it as a spear to protect the White House, and we’re not saying that happened,” he continued.

The AP has called the seizure a "massive intrusion" by the government on the free press, and lawmakers in both parties have expressed alarm over the Justice Department’s actions.

At a heated press conference on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama strongly supports an "unfettered" press, but would not comment on the ongoing investigation.