Attorney General Eric Holder defended the Justice Department’s seizure of Associated Press phone records, though he disclaimed knowledge of certain details about the investigation because he recused himself from the probe.

“The facts and the law have dictated our actions in that regard,” Holder told reporters. “This is among, if not the most serious, it is within the most top two or three most serious leaks that I have ever seen. It put the American people at risk. This is not hyperbole. It put the American people at risk,” he had also said while talking about the reason for the phone record seizure.

The Associated Press reported last May that the CIA had thwarted an airline bomb plot time to mark the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing by U.S. special forces.

When asked why DOJ made no attempt to obtain records from the AP voluntarily, Holder said he didn’t know because he recused himself from the investigation.

“To avoid the appearance of a potential conflict of interest and to make sure that the investigation was seen as independent, I recused myself from this matter,” Holder said. “The deputy attorney general would have ultimately been the one who authorized the subpoena that was sent to the AP.”