Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called on President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder to resign Tuesday over revelations that the Department of Justice monitored Associated Press phone records.
“Freedom of the press is an essential right in a free society. The First Amendment doesn’t request the federal government to respect it; it demands it,” Priebus said in a statement Monday.
“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. If President Obama does not, the message will be unmistakable: The President of the United States believes his administration is above the Constitution and does not respect the role of a free press.”
This is not the first time that Priebus has called for Holder’s resignation. In 2011, he called for the AG to step down over the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal.
It is not clear yet if Holder knew about the DOJ’s efforts to obtain two months of phone records from the AP. Justice Department rules require that subpoenas news organisations’ records must be personally approved by the attorney general, but it is not clear if that happened in this case.
The letter notifying AP that its phone records had been obtained was sent Friday by U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen.
On Monday, the White House said that it had “no knowledge” of the DOJ’s seizure of AP phone records, and referred all questions to the Justice Department.
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