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Justice Department mulling perjury prosecution for intelligence director James Clapper

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,NSA,Justice Department,James Clapper,James Sensenbrenner

Justice Department attorneys are reviewing the possibility of charging Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for perjury, as Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., wants, for his statements during a Senate hearing about National Security Agency data collection.

"We take our responsibility seriously to investigate allegations of perjury," Holder told Sensenbrenner during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday morning. "With regard to this specific matter ... it is something, as I said, that we are looking at the materials presented to us and an action will be taken that is appropriate."

Sensenbrenner and other Republicans asked Holder to investigate Clapper for perjury in December, because he told Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that the NSA did not collect any bulk data on millions of Americans, despite the existence of the phone records program.

"Sen. Wyden had warned Director Clapper prior to the hearing that he would ask the question," the lawmakers wrote to Holder. "Following the hearing, Wyden privately offered Clapper the opportunity to correct the record. Clapper declined."

Sensenbrenner emphasized to Holder that Clapper told NBC's Andrea Mitchell that he answered Wyden's question in the "least untruthful" manner he could.

"What more do you need besides an admission from Gen. Clapper that he lied?" Sensenbrenner asked as his time expired.

Holder wouldn't say if Justice has launched a formal investigation of Clapper. "We're not in a position to confirm whether the department is investigating any particular matter," he said.

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