Senate Republicans aren’t particularly up in arms regarding news of the Justice Department essentially spying on the Associated Press.
Despite being so vocal in recent weeks about the Internal Revenue Service targeting tea party nonprofits and the Obama administration’s response to Benghazi, Senate Republicans are waiting for the entire story to unfold in the AP case. The House Judiciary Committee will question Attorney General Eric Holder over the matter Wednesday.
"I want to see the details -- what was their rationale, why did they do it -- before offering an opinion," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who believes the State Department attempted to cover-up their response to the September 11 attack in Benghazi. "For me, to rush to a judgment without knowing all the facts is just not appropriate."
"Well, I think we need to see how this plays out," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a long time critic of Holder.
On the other hand, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is calling for Holder’s resignation alleging the DOJ violated freedom of press.
"The First Amendment doesn’t request the federal government to respect it; it demands it," Priebus said in a statement. "Attorney General Eric Holder, in permitting the Justice Department to issue secret subpoenas to spy on Associated Press reporters, has trampled on the First Amendment and failed in his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution."
"Congress and the American people expect answers and accountability," said Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.
Goodlatte says Holder will be asked “pointed” questions about the DOJ collecting telephone records from AP reporters and editors as part of a broader probe into national security leaks.
Last year, Senate Republicans -- including Cornyn and McCain -- pressured Holder to do more on national security leaks.
Goodlatte also plans to ask Holder about the Cincinnati IRS office now under investigation by the DOJ for targeting tea party groups who applied for tax-exempt status in 2012.
The AP has suggested the subpoena for phone records stemmed from a foiled terrorist attack in Yemen.
Holder declined to elaborate on the claim but said the leak was “very, very serious.” In a Tuesday press conference Holder said the leak “put the American people at risk” and “required very aggressive action.”
Holder said the DOJ followed "all of the appropriate Department of Justice regulations."
“Rather than talk to us in advance, they seized these phone records in secret, saying that notifying us would compromise their investigation,” AP President Gary Pruitt said in a statement post to the AP website Tuesday. “They say this secrecy is important for national security. It is always difficult to respond to that, particularly since they still haven’t told us specifically what they are investigating.”