Meet the Press   |  June 02, 2013

Does party ideology impact Justice handling?

A Meet the Press roundtable reviews the White House’s handling of the current controversy plaguing the Justice Department and its historical precedent within other administrations.

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

>> david, reaction to that.

>> i think those two issues live together. i think you can at once say we have to protect these classified matters as tom said that have grave consequences and cannot be in the public domain. on the other hand, we have to find a set of rules and laws --

>> jonathan alter , can you imagine a republican president doing what this president did? i mean, they came out there and they said, no apologies. these are serious crimes. we're going to investigate them. a few days later they said, you know what? maybe we overreached here.

>> i can't imagine mitt romney doing that because he wrote a whole book called "no apologies." people in that party have a policy of not apologizing. what's missing here, david, is a distinction between investigating leaks, finding out who was betraying secrets and prosecuting journalists. these are two different matters. in the past presidents have been very frustrated by leaks. ronald reagan said, i've had it up to my keister with leaks. this goes all the way back to the adams administration when they put in the acts. this is not a new debate. what's new and what's different is this idea of criminalizing the reporting part of it. look, in world war ii before the battle of midway, the " chicago tribune " released the u.s. battle plan. the roosevelt administration decided we're not going to prosecute the tribune for that in the middle of the war.

>> who's been prosecuted --

>> i was very uncomfortable and i think it was wrong to use the term co-conspirator. that's a legal term . what journalist was prosecuted? i totally agree you. you shouldn't criminalize reporting. but the fact is no journalist was prosecuted.

>> no. but if you have the fbi saying that the journalist is a, quote, co-conspirator, using that kind of language, that is starting to move down that road.

>> quit comment here and move on.

>> the administration went too far.

>> clearly.

>> i think that's very clear. i think the president recognized that a week later. but i think it'll be a shame if all this comes down to is just eric holder and we don't use this as a real teaching moment.

>> right.

>> when somebody goes too far, there also needs to be consequences. you know wh, what we saw this week was the cyag meeting. cover your ag. at the same time you see there's news media that chooses not to go. i've never been to an off the record meeting that's announced previously. it seems like an oxymoron to go d d discuss the freedom of