Does someone at White House want Eric Holder gone? (+video)(Read article summary)
An anonymous source in The New York Times says the White House is displeased by Attorney General Eric Holder's tin ear for scandal. It could be seen as a gentle nudge toward the door.
Thatâ€™s one reading of a Sunday New York Times story thatâ€™s still got people in D.C. buzzing.
First off, weâ€™ll say that no one currently in the administration is quoted in the piece as saying anything like â€śHolder should quit to save us grief.â€ť But an unnamed â€śDemocratic former officialâ€ť does say that, pretty much.
â€śThe White House is apoplectic about him, and has been for a long time,â€ť says this anonymous source of Mr. Holder.
One of the administrationâ€™s main complaints about the attorney general is that he â€śdoes not manage or foresee problems,â€ť adds this source.
This is hearsay, right? The Times reporter hasnâ€™t actually heard anybody in the White House express those views â€“ only a secondary source who claims to have heard them expressed. That weakens the case, as any lawyer will tell you.
But anonymous carping through the media is a time-honored Washington way of easing out officials who have become a liability. Itâ€™s supposed to give said official a hint without anyone directly telling them. That way, thereâ€™s deniability. The White House can say the person is stepping down of their own accord.
And Holder has definitely been producing some bad headlines for the Obama team. In particular, many Republicans and some Democrats charge that Holder may have committed perjury by telling Congress under oath that heâ€™d never heard of any â€śpotential prosecutionâ€ť of reporters under the Espionage Act, when heâ€™d signed off on a Justice Department warrant for the communications records of Fox News reporter James Rosen that named the journalist as an espionage co-conspirator.
â€śI think heâ€™s taken actions that demand explanation,â€ť said Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona on CBS's â€śFace the Nation.â€ť
Lots of Democrats say all this talk is blowing things way out of proportion. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) of Maryland pointed out over the weekend that Mr. Rosen hasnâ€™t been prosecuted. The real target of the warrant was Rosenâ€™s source in the government, said Representative Van Hollen.
â€śIt is often the practice in cases where you have investigations that you target somebody for the purpose of gathering information with never having any intention of prosecuting them,â€ť Van Hollen said on â€śFox News Sunday.â€ť
President Obama still has Holderâ€™s back, say administration officials for the record. Firing him now, or pushing him out, would be just giving in to partisan critics, in this view. And the AG has powerful personal defenders in the West Wing, including special assistant to the president Valerie Jarrett.
But Holderâ€™s longtime critics prefer to see the New York Times story as the precursor to an internal campaign to ease Holder out.
â€śAssuming this is a smoke signal from the White House, it indicates that Barack Obama wonâ€™t ask Holder to leave.... However, itâ€™s a big hint that the West Wing wonâ€™t be too engaged in defending him and would like to see him leave on his own,â€ť writes Ed Morrissey on the conservative Hot Air! website. â€śItâ€™s not quite a shove, at least not yet, but itâ€™s certainly a nudge.â€ť