On MSNBC Wednesday, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who served from 2005-2007 under President George W. Bush, said the Administration weighed whether it could subpoena information from an undisclosed source without telling that source about it — just as the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice has done in the scandal it created by doing the same thing to The Associated Press.
The only difference, though, is that Gonzalez and those in the Bush Administration close to the investigation decided against it:
There was at least one occasion in which we were engaged in a very serious leak investigation and we had to make some very difficult choices about whether or not to move forward, going after the reporters in order to try to figure out where the source of the leak is.
And sometimes, the department finds itself in a situation where they have exhausted all means and they have to make a very hard determination as to whether or not they want to subpoena the reporter, if they want to subpoena the reporter’s notes. So yes, I’ve had that situation. In the instance that I have in mind, we ultimately decided not to move forward.
He didn’t elaborate further, but Gonzalez did opine that the DOJ could probably get away with issuing a far-reaching subpoena to a press source, so long as the President knew about it and promised not to interfere. “It would surprise me that the White House would not have received some type of heads up,” he said of the current scandal.
The Obama Administration has denied any prior knowledge that the DOJ, under current Attorney General Eric Holder, had issued a subpoena that gave the DOJ access to phones used by more than 100 AP reporters.