WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas on Tuesday called for congressional involvement if Attorney General Eric Holder fails to appoint special counsel to investigate recent national security leaks to the media.
“If we are not going to get the kind of answer that the American people deserve out of the attorney general and out of this administration, I think it falls to Congress to do its own independent investigation through whatever structure that the leadership might deem appropriate,” Cornyn said at a press conference in Washington. He was joined by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; and Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
Cornyn and 30 other GOP senators released a letter asking Holder to appoint special counsel to investigate the source of leaked national security information reported in various news organizations, including President Obama’s terrorist "kill list" and the administration’s drone strikes.
The senators argue that Holder’s appointment of U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen Jr. and U.S Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod Rosenstein presents a conflict of interest.
“These two U.S. attorneys, political appointees of the Obama administration, are tasked with doing the investigation and reporting to guess who? The attorney general, Eric Holder, who has not demonstrated any sort of independence on his behalf as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States,” Cornyn said.
Cornyn has recently called on Holder to resign from his position because of the Fast and Furious gun trafficking sting.
Cornyn pointed to what he called a double standard between this investigation and the Valarie Plame incident under the Bush administration. In the grand jury investigation concerning the leak of Plame’s identification as a CIA operative, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed as special counsel.
“You cannot investigate yourselves and claim you have no conflict of interest, which the administration and attorney general Holder are claiming presently,” he said.
Cornyn and the other senators suggested that if special counsel is not appointed, larger steps must be taken to investigate the national security leaks.
“If, in fact, Attorney General Holder continues to promote this pretense of an independent investigation, my hope is that Congress will take up the responsibility to do what it is constitutionally authorized and obligated to do and that is to investigate this matter ourselves,” Cornyn said.
Video courtesy of Matt Michaels, Medill News Service
The Medill News Service is a content partner of The Texas Tribune and is providing reports from Washington, D.C.