Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus pressed President Barack Obama on Tuesday to fire Attorney General Eric Holder. Priebus argued that the Justice Department had violated the First Amendment by scooping up phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors.
“Attorney General Eric Holder, in permitting the Justice Department to issue secret subpoenas to spy on Associated Press reporters, has trampled on the First Amendment and failed in his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution,” Priebus said in a statement emailed to reporters.
“Because Attorney General Holder has so egregiously violated the public trust, the president should ask for his immediate resignation,” Priebus said.
“If President Obama does not, the message will be unmistakable: The president of the United States believes his administration is above the Constitution and does not respect the role of a free press,” the RNC chief said.
Holder is due to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday at a previously scheduled hearing.
It's not clear that the Justice Department broke any laws or violated the Constitution—though The Associated Press denounced the collection of phone records of its reporters without prior notice an unacceptable and unprecedented violation of freedom of the press as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Civil liberties groups such as the ACLU have denounced the Justice Department's actions. The White House has referred questions about the burgeoning scandal to the Justice Department.