"We respected that, we acted responsibly, we held the story," Pruitt said.
Pruitt said that only after officials from two government entities said the threat had passed did the AP publish the story. He said the administration still asked that the story be held until an official announcement the next day, a request the AP rejected.
The news service viewed the story as important because White House and Department of Homeland Security officials were saying publicly there was no credible evidence of a terrorist threat to the U.S. around the one-year anniversary of bin Laden's death.
"So that was misleading to the American public. We felt the American public needed to know this story," Pruitt said.
The AP has seen an effect on its newsgathering since the disclosure of the Justice Department's subpoena, he said.
"Officials that would normally talk to us and people we talk to in the normal course of newsgathering are already saying to us that they're a little reluctant to talk to us," Pruitt said. "They fear that they will be monitored by the government."
The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of personal and work telephone records for several reporters and editors, as well as general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery.
"It was sweeping and broad and beyond what they needed to do," Pruitt said.
He objected to the "Justice Department acting on its own being the judge, jury and executioner in secret," saying the AP would not back down.
"We're not going to be intimidated by the abusive tactics of the Justice Department," he said.
McConnell and Pfeiffer were interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press." Cornyn appeared on "Face the Nation."
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