WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee said on Sunday his panel was investigating Attorney General Eric Holder for a conflict in remarks made under oath at a hearing on a government leak investigation.
Representative Bob Goodlatte and another Republican lawmaker last week asked Holder to clarify testimony he gave Congress about whether he signed off on any decision to pursue a criminal investigation of Fox News reporter James Rosen.
Asked on "Fox News Sunday" whether his panel was investigating Holder for possible perjury, Goodlatte said: "Yes, it is fair to say we are investigating the conflict in his remarks. Those remarks were made under oath."
"But we also think it's very important that the attorney general be afforded the opportunity to respond. So we will wait to pass judgment on that until after we receive his response," the Virginia lawmaker said.
In his May 15 testimony, Holder said he had never been involved in any decision to pursue a criminal investigation of a journalist.
But media outlets subsequently reported that Holder had approved a decision to seek a search warrant for Fox News email records, and Reuters reported Holder signed off on a subpoena for telephone records as well.
Rosen was described as a co-conspirator by investigators but was not charged. Goodlatte said it was troubling that the Justice Department may have been "using allegations with regard to an individual to get a search warrant that they would not otherwise get."
Another senior House Republican, Representatives Darrell Issa, said Holder's comments before Congress on whether he had signed off on the Rosen investigation were at least misleading.
"It would be kind to say he misled Congress. It would be less kind and more accurate to say that would rise to be a lie by most people's standards," Issa, the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.
"Perjury is a criminal charge that has to be proven," Issa added. "But certainly it's hard to have confidence in what this attorney general says or his people say when so often it turns out not to be true."
Goodlatte and another lawmaker on his committee, U.S. Representative James Sensenbrenner, asked Holder in their letter on Wednesday for a "full and accurate account of your involvement in and approval of these search warrants."
The Justice Department said it planned to show Holder's testimony was factual in response to the lawmakers' letter and the White House said Holder's testimony was truthful.
(Reporting by Xavier Briand and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Doina Chiacu)