Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) interrogated Holder over his decision to recuse himself from the case, and declared that the Obama administration had “impaired the First Amendment.”
“The actions of the Department have, in fact, impaired the First Amendment” Lofgren began. “Reporters that might have previously believed that a confidential source would speak to them would no longer have that level of confidence, because those confidential sources are going to be chilled in their relationship with the press.”
“I still don’t understand, number one, why and how you recused yourself,” Lofgren added. She noted that the attorney general is required to sign off on the seizure of communication records from media outlets. She asked if Holder submitted his recusal in writing to the Deputy Attorney General James Cole.
“No,” Holder replied. “I don’t think there is anything in writing with regard to my recusal.”
“What about the requirement in the code that you expressly approve – now, you’ve recused yourself – was that express authorization authority delegated to Mr. Cole?” Lofgren asked.
Holder replied that once he had recused himself, Cole became the acting attorney general.
Holder concluded by pledging to the committee and the American people to engage in an investigation of the case after it had been completed. Lofgren thanked Holder for this concession, but noted that “the damage done to a free press is substantial and will continue until corrective action is taken.”