Holder: 'We Are Examining the Facts to See If There Were Criminal Violations’

By Melanie Arter | May 14, 2013 | 2:25 PM EDT

President Barack Obama and Eric Holder (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday said the FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken with the IRS targeting of conservative groups, calling it “outrageous and unacceptable.”

“I have ordered an investigation to be begun. The FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken in connection with those matters related to the IRS. Those were, I think as everyone can agree, if not criminal, they were certainly outrageous and unacceptable, but we are examining the facts to see if there were criminal violations,” Holder said.

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The attorney general has recused himself from the investigation into the Associated Press scandal “to avoid even the possibility of an appearance of a conflict” and to “make sure that this investigation was seen as one that was independent.”

The Justice Department secretly obtained months of phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors in what the AP called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news is gathered, the AP reported.

“With the IRS and AP situation, a lot of Americans say they don’t trust the administration right now. What can you say to them that you can ensure that they should trust all of you?” a reporter asked Holder.

“To the extent that we have determined that actors in government have gone beyond what they were supposed to do, broken regulations, broken rules, broken the law, we have prosecuted people, we have held people accountable,” Holder said in response.

“We have tried to do things according to the rules. There are going to be people occasionally who will not do so. It is then incumbent upon us who have enforcement responsibilities to make sure that we hold those people accountable, and I think our record shows that over the last four and a half years that we’ve done that,” he added.