Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) advised embattled Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday to consider resigning amid controversies over the Justice Department's investigations into leaks involving the Associated Press and Fox News.
"Let me just say that ... any public official -- no matter whether it be the attorney general or anybody in public office -- whenever you feel that you have lost your effectiveness, or may be losing your effectiveness, to the detriment of the job that you do, even though you're a good, honest, sincere, hardworking person, you have to evaluate that and make a decision," Manchin said on Bloomberg TV's "Political Capital with Al Hunt."
"And I think we're at the time now where decisions have to be made," he added. "I just think that, basically, in light of what is going on in the country and everybody looking at it -- it might be the most well-intended person with the best of intentions, but if they're not being effective and they're not being received, how effective is it and how good is it for the country?"
Holder came under fire last month when it was revealed that the Department of Justice secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for the Associated Press. AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt sent the attorney general a letter of protest, in which he called the actions a "massive and unprecedented intrusion." A subsequent report in the Washington Post found that the DOJ obtained a warrant for Fox News reporter James Rosen, suggesting he may be guilty of criminal wrongdoing over a June 2009 story on North Korea.
The controversies ignited concerns over press freedoms and government overreach, and have prompted some Republicans, who have been at odds with the attorney general since the 'Fast and Furious' case, to renew calls for Holder's resignation. Manchin, on the other hand, is the rare Democratic lawmaker to suggest publicly that Holder should consider stepping down.
Holder has repeatedly defended the DOJ investigations as necessary steps to protect national security interests. He has also retained the support of President Barack Obama, who told reporters last month that he had "complete confidence" in his attorney general.
Manchin also reacted to revelations that the National Security Agency has been conducting massive surveillance of American phone records, though he was reticent to criticize its actions.
"Sure, it bothers me, and I think it bothers you and every other American. It should be stopped, as far as the broad base that they're doing," he said. "I'm wanting to do everything I can to fight the war on terror ... But do you give up everything as an American? I think the Patriot Act and the interpretation and way it's being enforced is broader than what we would have intended."