Meet the Press   |  June 02, 2013

Schumer shares details on bill to protect journalists

Sen. Chuck Schumer joins Meet the Press to discuss the current controversy plaguing the Justice Department and detail provisions of his legislation that would offer greater protections to the press.

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

>>> chuck schumer , welcome back.

>> nice to be with you.

>> let me start on this issue of the future of the attorney general. we have seen whether it's the huffington post or jonathan turley , law professor , writing in " usa today " that he should resign, senator roberts saying he should resign, tom brokaw saying this morning hard to see how he could hold on to his job with all this pressure. do you think the attorney general should keep his job?

>> there have been all kinds of accusations but i haven't seen anything that would prevent him from continuing to do his job. let's not forget, for about two years many of our hard right colleagues spent a lot of their time on fast and furious and i'm sure there were calls for holder to step down. he continued to do his job well. then the ig exonerated him on fast and furious . so obviously if there's wrong doing, we should find out who did it. but the president has confidence in holder and i believe he's going to stay.

>> and you have confidence?

>> listen, yes. the -- as i said, i haven't seen a single accusation that prevents him from doing his job.

>> what about whether he committed perjury in front of the house committee when he says he's never been involved in the potential prosecution of a journalist yet his own affidavit names james rosen of fox news as a co-conspirator for getting classified information .

>> yeah. i don't think there's perjury. there's been no professisecution or attempted prosecution of any journalist so there can't be perjury. the warrant is a tool to get information. i don't think the two were contradictory. i don't think any good criminal lawyer would say there's a scintilla of evidence of perjury.

>> if there is a long investigation by the judiciary ex committee into the attorney general, is that a good thing for the country?

>> look, we should investigate and find out what went wrong. particularly with the irs situation. i think the other two on the media shield, we need some new laws. that's for sure. and we need an independent arbitor as your panel pointed out. it's one big mess. you cannot have the justice department be both the player and the umpire. so the bill that lindsey graham and i have proposed, where there'd be an independent arbiter, judge, to balance the two very real needs of freedom of the press and preventing leaks is the way to go. in terms of the irs -- sorry.

>> this doesn't cover national security issues, does it?

>> yes, it does.

>> how so?

>> obviously it provides more leeway on national security as it should than other kinds of leaks. but in three ways. first, if the administration is saying it's national security , you have an independent arbiter determine if it is. second they can determine the ambut. for instance, in the a.p. the judge could say maybe getting the phone records of four of these a.p. reporters has to do with national security . the other 16 don't. finally and maybe most importantly, it requires there be notice to the news organization. so a.p. or fox news would get notice. and could go to court and try and suppress it.

>> let me can you about to the best of my recollection -- irs . new information coming out about lavish spending at these conferences. there's been a video produced of irs employees getting together preparing line dances for conferences. they're spending a lot of money on producing these kinds of videos. a lot of companies do this. we're talking about government employees. in the context of everything that's happening this has got to be the last thing the irs needs.

>> absolutely. and the new director, the acting director of the irs said he would put an end to it. it's outrageous, any kind of wasteful spending like this must be put down, particularly at these times.

>> you talk about the irs investigations and the targeted conservative groups. you lobbied the irs to look into these groups. you didn't specify conservative groups. there are those on the right who say you and others effectively did. you were really targeting conservative groups not to be given that tax exempt status .

>> no, that's absolutely not true. first, our letter came a year and a half after they started targeting the tea party . so it couldn't have caused it, that's for sure. second, look what our letter says. it says form a bright line and determine how much political activity a so-called social welfare organization can do before they lose their tax exempt status . our letter is is actually the solution. i would propose that we say -- we pass legislation that more than 10% -- if more than 10% of your activity is political activity, you lose your tax exemption . if you had a bright line it wouldn't be up to some bureaucrat to make their own determination, perhaps wrongly based on political needs. it would be the same standard for all groups, liberal, conservative, democrat, republican. that's what we need. our letter actually the solution to the problem