Eric Holder’s Latest Scandal: Double Standard for ‘Journalist’ Who Taped Sen. McConnell
Not All Journalists Are Equal
Eric Holder is about to wade into another Washington scandal, this time over treatment of a pseudo-journalist who bugged the campaign office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Holder already is embroiled in a major Washington scandal over a massive sweep of Associated Press phone records and the threat to prosecute Fox news reporter James Rosen. These investigations were conducted swiftly and secretly.
Now Holder appears to be applying the same caution ordinarily afforded reporters who gather information in the course of their work. In short, he has set up a glaring double standard that will only add to charges that he is a partisan activist who manipulates the law.
The case in question goes back to February when would-be journalist Curtis Morrison taped a campaign meeting between McConnell and his aides. Morrison admitted the illegal taping and was subsequently fired from his job as a writer for Insider Louisville, a local news website.
At the time of the secret taping, Morrison was working for the liberal group Progress Kentucky, which is dedicated to defeating McConnell. An account of the taped campaign meeting was published in Mother Jones in April.
Any pursuit of Morrison by the Justice Department would require Holder’s approval because of Morrison’s cover as a journalist at the time of the secret taping. But unlike the investigations of the Associated Press and Rosen, the Morrison investigation has moved slowly.
Understandably, McConnell is furious. If the Justice Department takes a pass on prosecuting Morrison or classifies him as a journalist, the Senate Minority Leader will have a major campaign issue in his run for reelection next year.
In a recent interview with Politico, McConnell said he would make the incident an issue all the way through 2014.
“It isn’t over,” McConnell said. “It’s an issue – we’ll be talking about this all the way to the election.”
The once active investigation of Morrison has slowed. David Hale, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky recused himself from the case because he has been mentioned as a possible nominee for a federal judgeship. His nomination would be subject to Senate confirmation and could set up a conflict of interest with McConnell.
Morrison told Politico that his attorney was slated to meet in early June with an assistant U.S. attorney in Louisville as potential charges against him were being presented to a grand jury. But Morrison later said that the meeting had been canceled and no follow-up had been scheduled.
Now it is up to Holder. If the Attorney General gives Morrison status as a journalist and avoids pursuing the investigation, he will face charges of outright partisan favoritism. He will hear a lot from Mitch McConnell. Watching from the sidelines will be James Rosen and reporters for the Associated Press.