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GOP piles on Holder over leaks probe

Add Sen. Ted Cruz to the growing list of pols calling for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation.
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Ted Cruz answers a question from a television reporter Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Houston.  (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Ted Cruz answers a question from a television reporter Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Houston.

Add Sen. Ted Cruz to the growing list of pols calling for Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation.

The Texas Republican said on Thursday that President Obama should “absolutely” call for Holder to step down because of his “willingness to disregard the law.”

Cruz, appearing on Fox News, pointed to last year’s “Fast and Furious” scandal and the Department of Justice’s decision to authorize subpoenas for Associated Press and Fox News journalists’ personal information.

“The conduct of the Justice Department does not inspire confidence,” the Tea Party favorite said, insisting it’s part of a bigger pattern of the Obama administration “not respecting the Bill of Rights, not respecting the First Amendment, not respecting the Second Amendment, not respecting our Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights regarding drone strikes.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Jonathan Turley, a prominent liberal attorney, also have called on Holder to resign.

The criticism comes as a trial begins next week for Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private who was arrested three years ago for allegedly providing classified information to the website Wikileaks. While the cases are different than the AP and Fox News (Manning was bound by an oath to not disclose classified information), issues surrounding the DOJ will surely be raised, as the Obama administration prosecutes one of the world's most notorious secret spillers.

Related: Media parlay: Holder to meet with press amid leaks probe

Meanwhile, Holder began meeting with several media organizations this week as part of an agency review that President Obama has mandated since revelations of the probes surfaced. Obama has said he was unaware of the DOJ’s practices. However, many--including NBC News, CNN, Fox News, CBS News, Reuters, the Associated Press, The New York Times and The Huffington Post--are refusing to go unless the meetings are on the record.

Others, including ABC News, Bloomberg, USA Today, Politico, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal said they will attend.

Journalists who were at the meeting told Politico that Holder and Deputy Attorney James Cole expressed a willingness to revise the current DOJ guidelines for such probes but did not commit to any specific changes.

Holder gave the OK for a controversial search warrant for Fox News reporter James Rosen’s private emails over a story he did about North Korea’s nuclear program. Rosen allegedly received classified information from Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a security adviser at the State Department. The DOJ has charged Kim with violating the Espionage Act.

The Justice Department is also coming under fire for secretly seizing phone records of AP journalists for an investigation into the leaking of information about a CIA operation in Yemen. In the latter probe, Holder has insisted he recused himself from the matter and that it was Cole who greenlit the subpoena.

The GOP-led House Judiciary committee has seized on Holder since the news of the media probes surfaced. The committee sent Holder a letter this week asserting he may have lied under oath during his recent testimony before the panel. Two weeks ago, amid revelations that the DOJ targeted the AP, Holder said he had not been personally involved in the potential prosecution of a journalist who made sensitive information public. Since that testimony, NBC News reported Holder approved a search warrant for Rosen’s emails. Evidence also emerged that prosecutors branded Rosen a “co-conspirator” who had “potential criminal liability.”

The Justice Department late Thursday night insisted in a statement that Holder’s testimony was “accurate and consistent with the facts.”

“At no time during the leak case involving Stephen Kim, before or after the FBI sought the search warrant, have prosecutors sought approval to bring criminal charges against the reporter,” the statement said.

The DOJ stressed it is committed to striking a balance between protecting classified national security information and protecting the first amendment rights of journalists to gather and report the news. "The Department appreciates the opportunity in the coming days and weeks to engage with media representatives to discuss ways in which our processes may be improved."