U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was slammed by U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., over the Associated Press phone records scandal after Holder said it was his deputy who authorized the subpoena of AP records.
The answer didn’t satisfy Sensenbrenner, who said the Justice Department under Holder is lacking accountability. Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee on a host of issues, including the AP scandal.
“Mr. Attorney General, I think that this committee has been frustrated from at least the last 2 ½ years … that there doesn’t seem to be any acceptance of responsibility in the Justice Department for things that have gone wrong,” the congressman said.
Sensenbrenner then urged Holder to go to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library so the attorney general can see the “The Buck Stops Here” placard that Truman had on his desk in the White House.
“We don’t know where the buck stops,” Sensenbrenner said.
Holder noted that he recused himself from the government leak investigation because he possesses information that was leaked. At first, he said he was “95 to 99 percent” sure that his deputy, James Cole, who authorized the subpoena of AP phone records. He later said he was certain that it was Cole.
U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he was concerned over the subpoena, which was issued without the knowledge of the AP.
Goodlatte asked Holder why the AP wasn’t contacted.
“I don’t know what happened there with the AP and the Justice Department; I was recused from the case,” Holder said.
Criticism of the Justice Department was not just limited to Republicans on the committee.
"It seems to me the damage done to a free press is substantial and will continue until corrective action is taken," said U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., also said the obtaining of AP toll records was troubling.
Since Holder said he recused himself, U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., asked if the attorney general would urge Cole to testify before the committee.
Holder said it's unclear how much information Cole could give to the body because "you'd be asking questions about an ongoing matter."