WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that he recused himself from a DOJ investigation into the Associated Press that resulted in the collection of months of the news agency’s phone records.
Pointing to an FBI interview in which he participated in the leak case, Holder said that in order to “avoid a potential appearance of a conflict of interest … I recused myself.” The decision to pull AP’s records was made by the U.S. attorney in Washington and the deputy attorney general, Holder said.
Holder refused to comment on the unprecedented decision during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. But he defended the DOJ’s decision, insisting that he was “confident that the people involved in this … followed all applicable Department of Justice regulations.”
The AP reported Monday afternoon that the DOJ had pulled phone records — including on personal phones — of reporters in multiple bureaus, apparently as part of an investigation into national security leaks that the DOJ is conducting.
The unprecedented collection of those records set off a firestorm of criticism from the press and members of Congress.