Can Eric Holder survive?
That's the question that is being asked as the embattled attorney general makes several moves to try and salvage his job.
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are investigating whether he lied to the panel under oath, while David Axelrod --Obama's former chief political strategist -- this week called Justice's investigation of a Fox reporter "disturbing." Liberal pundit Bill Press said Holder should resign.
White House press secretary Jay Carney was peppered with several questions Wednesday about Holder, and responded that Obama has "confidence" in the attorney general. Obama believes Holder is "doing a good job," Carney said.
Holder has taken several actions to move through the storm.
He has hired Sen. Charles Schumer's (D-N.Y.) veteran communications director, Brian Fallon, as his chief spokesman, and has initiated a series of in-person conversations with the D.C. bureau chiefs of major news outlets. At Obama's request, he is reviewing the DOJ's process for targeting journalists during its investigations of leaks to the media.
Mark Carallo, the public affairs director for the DOJ under former Attorney General John Ashcroft, said it is clear Holder is in trouble.
"If news organizations really stand up to him and don't let it go and continue to hound him about it, then it's going to continue to make his position very precarious," said Carallo. "It's as serious a situation as I've seen in 20 years. It really is."
There have also been signs that Holder wants the public to know he thinks he and his department could have handled things differently.
A story this week in the Daily Beast quoted aides as saying Holder felt "a creeping sense of personal remorse" while reading a Washington Post story about Justice's tracking of Fox News reporter James Rosen's movements in and out of the State Department.
As long as Holder has Obama's support, he's relatively safe. But would the president consider throwing his friend under the bus to salvage something out of his second term?
The White House will be forced to gauge the level of heat it can stand to take from the controversies enshrouding Holder.
Obama can't bear to lose support from Democrats as he's already struggling to win over a handful of Republicans in an effort to push forward his legislative agenda.
And if the liberal scrutiny of Holder continues to increase, Obama may be forced to consider taking more severe steps with the attorney general.
Several liberals have already called for Holder to resign, including Bill Press and Keith Olberman. The Huffington Post has also called for Holder to step down or be fired. The steps Holder has taken to mend fences with the left and the MSM are superficial and aren't likely to convince anyone that he should be in charge of reforming DoJ procedures on press subpoenas.
So does he go, or stay?
The heat is only going to increase if the House Judiciary Committee determines that the AG lied under oath about his involvement in press subpoenas. Even some of his allies admit he misled congress on that score and the only question is if he did it deliberately. He's already gotten a contempt citation from the committee and a charge of perjury would probably be the end of him.