"He was carrying out his responsibilities," Axelrod said on "Morning Joe."
Holder and the Department of Justice are under fire for aggressively pursuing national security leaks by subpoenaing reporter phone records and, in the case of Fox News reporter James Rosen, monitoring his movements in and out of the State Department.
In an off-the-record meeting with several media organizations on Thursday, Holder promised media outlets he would overhaul how the Justice Department handles leak investigations and expressed regret over the seizure of journalists' records, according to reports.
Axelrod, a former journalist himself, conceded that the Fox case gives him pause. "I'm always uncomfortable with the notion a reporter being named as a co-conspirator in a petition," he said.
But the Democratic strategist also said there needs to be a "balance" between protecting national security and the freedom of the press.
"The question is, what kinds of policies do we need to enact in order to
make that happen? The president and others have supported this shield
law. Is that strong enough? Are there other things that need to be
done?" Axelrod said.
Calls for Holder's resignation have grown since the media leaks investigation became public. Pentagon Papers lawyer James Goodale published an op-ed on Thursday urging Holder to step down.
"Attorney General Eric Holder should resign for his role in the James Rosen case. He signed off on a search warrant to Rosen, a Fox News reporter. This warrant treated Rosen as a common criminal. It sets a terrible precedent. Holder should resign to erase this precedent," wrote Goodale in The Daily Beast.