Did Attorney General Eric Holder commit perjury when he testified before the House Judiciary hearing on oversight held May 15?
Statement of Facts:
On May 15, Holder was invited to testify before Congress after the disclosure that two months of telephone records belonging to Associated Press reporters and offices were seized by the Department of Justice. Holder was sworn in before he was questioned.
When Rep. Hank Johnson’s turn for questioning came up, the Georgia Democrat threw the attorney general a softball by bringing up the possibility of the DOJ prosecuting reporters. Holder answered, in part, “This is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.”
On May 19, The Washington Post reported that both phone records and the private emails of Fox News Washington correspondent James Rosen were seized pursuant to a search warrant. The affidavit supporting the warrant referred to Rosen as a “flight risk,” and accused him of being an “aider, abetter and/or criminal co-conspirator.”
On May 23 NBC reported the Department of Justice’s confirmation that Eric Holder’s original signature appeared on the documents requesting the search warrant directed against Rosen.
Application of Law:
LegalDictionary.com defines perjury as, “A crime that occurs when an individual willfully makes a false statement during a judicial proceeding, after he or she has taken an oath to speak the truth.”
Applying the elements of the crime to the facts, there’s no question but that Holder testified under oath.
For purposes of determining the existence of perjury, a congressional hearing may be considered a “judicial proceeding.”
There’s no question but that Holder’s testimony was not the truth. Prosecuting lawyers obviously was “something [he’d] been involved in, heard of, [and] would think would be wise policy.”
The case rests on the word “willfully.” Did Holder willfully lie to Congress or did he simply forget? The Rosen search warrant was, after all, obtained almost four years before he testified. On the other hand, even if he couldn’t recall this particular event, he also testified that he didn’t think going after journalists “would be wise policy.” Obviously he did consider it wise policy — he did it.
How would you decide?
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