Step one - Attorney General Eric Holder swears an oath to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" before Congress on May 15.
Step two - Under friendly questioning from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Holder
"In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material. This is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.
Step three - The Justice Department publicly acknowledges that Holder personally vetted and approved a warrant that explicitly targeted Fox News correspondent James Rosen as a "criminal co-conspirator" in furtherance of a leak investigation. Here's how I summarized the contents of said warrant on Friday (the DOJ released this information while most of America was stocking up on beers and brats for the long weekend): "The Justice Department wanted to "repeatedly" monitor Rosen's personal emails for a 'lengthy period of time' -- years possibly -- in order to track his 'contacts with other government officials' beyond the source at the center of the North Korea leak investigation. In other words, they wanted to troll Rosen's contacts and news-gathering methods indefinitely." For more details, be sure to go back and read Ryan Lizza's reporting on this. His article, like the Justice Department's news dump, lost much of its impact because of the holiday.
Step four - The House Judiciary Committee is looking into whether Holder lied under oath at their May 15th hearing. Evidence in the affirmative is outlined in items one through three above:
The House Judiciary Committee is investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied under oath during his May 15 testimony on the Justice Department’s (DOJ) surveillance of reporters, an aide close to the matter told The Hill. The panel is looking at a statement Holder made during a back and forth with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) about whether the DOJ could prosecute reporters under the Espionage Act of 1917...The panel is investigating whether NBC’s report contradicts Holder’s claim that he had not looked into or been involved with a possible prosecution of the press in a leaks case. Holder’s testimony at the hearing came before Justice’s actions against Rosen had become public. The hearing was held after The Associated Press revealed the Department of Justice had secretly subpoenaed its phone records in a separate leaks investigation.
NBC News' scoop on this matter is less relevant now that DOJ itself has confirmed the substance of that reporting, although NBC's role is still quite important. Justice begrudgingly executed their Friday news dump only after NBC broke its story. Who knows if that information would ever have been disclosed if the media didn't force the Holder PR team's hand. Similarly, Holder is now navel-gazing about (passive voice) "regrets" in the press only after his department's heavy-handed investigative methods have been exposed and generated intense controversy. This is an administration that has leaned on the Espionage Act to prosecute leaks more than all previous administrations
If Holder’s defense to perjury boils down to a Clintonian parsing of precisely which leak-related crimes he’s considered jailing reporters for, he’s in more trouble than I thought. Of all the criticism I’ve read of his Rosen probe over the past week, I can’t think of a single piece, left or right, that argued the propriety of the warrant depended on whether Rosen was being accused of disclosing classified info to the public versus soliciting it. Holder may wriggle off the hook on the perjury charge due to the distinction, but imagine how it’ll play publicly to see the Attorney General resorting to weaselly rhetorical hair-splitting to defend the DOJ’s targeting of journalists. Two: What Holder said under oath at the hearing about never prosecuting a journalist for “the disclosure of material” can easily be read broadly to encompass a perjury charge. After all, Rosen was, potentially, going to be prosecuted for an act of “disclosure” — namely, his source’s disclosure of info to him.
Read the whole thing. Even if Holder chooses to defend himself by parsing the hell out of every word he uttered, another problem he'll encounter is the portion of his answer stating that he'd never even heard of the idea of potentially prosecuting a journalist. His review of, and signature on, that warrant would suggest otherwise -- no matter now slippery his definition of "disclosure" may become. Stay tuned as Holder's self-made predicament deepens.