Attorney General Eric Holder has tapped the top PR aide to one of the U.S. Senate's most press-savvy members to take over the Justice Department's public affairs operation, which is facing a barrage of attention over the AP leak probe.
Brian Fallon, communications director for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), is in line to take the top Justice PA slot vacated in February by Tracy Schmaler, who moved to ASGK Public Strategies.
Fallon, who will make the move next month, exits Schumer's office after six years. He also serves as chief spokesman and communications director for the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center. Earlier, he worked press posts on the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004 and for Sen. Bob Menendez's (D-N.J.) 2006 election campaign. Fallon's wife, Katie Beirne, is deputy communications director at the White House.
Meredith Kelly is deputy communications director for Schumer.
Holder, as part of a review of the Justice Dept.'s dealings with the press, is planning off-the-record meetings with news organizations to diffuse the crisis sparked by the department's seizure of AP and Fox News phone records. But several news organizations, including the Associated Press, Fox News, New York Times and Reuters, are refusing to attend the sessions unless they are on-the-record talks. Politico and the Wall Street Journal are among news orgs who say they will attend.
[Updated 5/31: Politico reports the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker and New York Daily News took part in a Thursday meeting with Holder, noting officials "agreed that the journalists could discuss publicly and in general some of the ideas that were discussed during the course of what otherwise an off-the-record meeting."]