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US Lawmakers Question Attorney General in Domestic Scandals

US Lawmakers Question Holder Over Domestic Scandalsi
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May 16, 2013
U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder faced tough questions from members of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Wednesday on the Justice Department's gathering of phone records from Associated Press reporters and on the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative Tea Party groups. As VOA Congressional Correspondent Cindy Saine reports, this has turned out to be a rough week for the Attorney-General and President Barack Obama.

US Lawmakers Question Holder Over Domestic Scandals

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Cindy Saine
— U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder faced tough questions from members of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Wednesday, about the Justice Department's gathering of phone records from Associated Press reporters, and on the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative Tea Party groups. This has turned out to be a rough week for the attorney general and for President Barack Obama.

President Obama is facing questions on two developing domestic scandals, and the pressure on top members of his Cabinet is beginning to heat up on Capitol Hill.  
 
Republican and Democratic lawmakers have expressed outrage that Internal Revenue Service employees targeted conservative Tea Party groups that applied for tax-exempt status for special scrutiny. House Speaker John Boehner suggested there may have been criminal conduct.

“The IRS admitted to targeting conservatives, even if the White House continues to be stuck on the word ‘if.’ My question isn't about who is going to resign. My question is who's going to jail over this scandal?,” Boehner said.

At a previously scheduled House hearing, Attorney General Eric Holder promised that his department would be dispassionate in its investigation into the IRS and go after whoever did wrong.

"The facts will take us wherever they take us," Holder said.

Though the Justice Department has subpoenaed two months of AP reporters and editors' telephone records, Holder told lawmakers he could not answer any questions because he recused himself early in the investigation of who leaked sensitive national security information about a foiled terror attack in Yemen.

"I am not familiar with the reasons why the subpoena was constructed in the way that it was because I am simply not a part of the case," Holder said.

Some Republican lawmakers said they detect a pattern with the Obama administration when it comes to scandals.  Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.

"There does not seem to be any acceptance of responsibility, in the Justice Department, for things that have gone wrong," Sensenbrenner said.

A number of Democratic lawmakers and civil rights activists have said the seizure of reporters' phone records could have a chilling effect on freedom of the press.  Democrat Zoe Lofgren of California.

"The damage done to a free press is substantial," Lofgren said.

Lawmakers say they will continue to push for answers,  which will likely mean more tough weeks ahead for the President and his Attorney- General.

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