Meet the Press   |  June 02, 2013

Justice controversy: Problem for cabinet or White House?

A Meet the Press panel of experts discusses the controversy surrounding Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department and whether the political weight falls back onto the attorney general or the president.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the attorney general under fire. david axelrod , my question is, is this a holder problem or is it a president obama problem at this juncture?

>> i think, look, the sport, the sie civic sport of washington, d.c., is -- there's a serious public policy issue underneath all of this that i think we have to resolve as a country which is there are things that you have to keep secret for the security of the people who are risking their lives out there. and for national security , how do you balance that against the public's right to know, which is a very sacred principle as well. that's a discussion we should be having.

>> i think part of the discussion we have to be having is also a question of leadership. if that's what it is. there's obviously going to be a political target for holder, for republicans and the media that are going to target him, but i'm focused, too, on the president. and the idea of making no apologies and then appearing to make apologies about all of this. here was the president middle of last month when he came out -- when the seizure of the a.p. phone records first surfaced. this is what he said.

>> leaks related to national security can put people at risk. they can put men and women in uniform that i've sent into the battlefield at risk.

>> yet then within a week he's changing his tune. this is what he said now.

>> i'm troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable. journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.

>> tom friedman , was this a president and attorney general, do they think they overreached and alienated people normally with them, the news media?

>> that's what makes this case interesting. because there was overreach maybe on both sides to some degree. red lines were crossed. clearly red lines were crossed on the department of justice in effect criminalizing reporting. at the same time, you know, you look at that fox report about north korea and other people i respect a lot, walter peyton and jack schafer made this point. you do have to scratch your head about what was the news in there that justified we had a source in the korean leadership. to me clearly the doj went too far. you saw the president, i think, reflecting that. i do think, i share david's view, we got to talk about this. not everything that's secret is news. what should be news is malfeasance, misbehavior, lying. not the fact we have a source in the north korean leadership.