Charlie Rangel: Obama Failing To Explain Justice Department Seizure Of AP Phone Records

05/15/2013 10:10 am ET

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that President Barack Obama has failed to provide adequate explanation for the Justice Department's decision to seize the phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors.

During an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Rangel said the president owes the public a better explanation for the Justice Department action.

"I don't think anyone truly believes that the president has given a sufficient answer for America, much less the press,” Rangel said. "I think this is just the beginning.. the president has to come forward and share why he did not alert the press that they were going to do this, and he has to tell America, including me, what was this national security question. You just can't raise the flag and expect us to salute it every time for no reason."

However, Rangel pushed back on the comparisons to Richard Nixon and Watergate floated by some of his Republican colleagues.

"The whole idea of comparing this with Nixon, I really think it just doesn't make much sense," he said.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney faced questioning on the AP scandal during a press briefing. Carney said that while the president is a "firm believer in the need for the press to be unfettered in its ability to conduct investigative reporting," he also "recognizes the need for the Justice Department to investigate alleged criminal activity without undue influence."

"You're not going to hear him say that it's okay for the nation's secrets to be freely reported when that information can endanger our national security and do harm to individuals," Carney said of the president.

Rangel, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, also weighed in on the administration's response to the IRS targeting of conservative groups for increased scrutiny.

"I am confident that the president is angry as hell about this, as he should be," Rangel said. "The IRS is no place for partisanship, Democrat or Republican. In order for people to have confidence in the tax collector, they have to move swiftly and identify what went wrong."

The House committee will hold a hearing on the IRS scandal on Friday.

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