President Barack Obama announced today that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will resign as soon as a successor is confirmed. Carrie Johnson reported for National Public Radio,
Holder already is one of the longest-serving members of the Obama Cabinet and currently ranks as the fourth-longest tenured AG in history. Hundreds of employees waited in lines, stacked three rows deep, in early February 2009 to witness his return to the Justice Department, where he previously worked as a young corruption prosecutor and as deputy attorney general – the second in command – during the Clinton administration. […]
Holder most wants to be remembered for his record on civil rights: refusing to defend a law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman; suing North Carolina and Texas over voting restrictions that disproportionately affect minorities and the elderly; launching 20 investigations of abuses by local police departments; and using his bully pulpit to lobby Congress to reduce prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. Many of those sentences disproportionately hurt minority communities.
Republicans in Congress have long clashed with Holder over many issues, notably the “Fast and Furious” gun trafficking scandal and Holder’s original plan to prosecute the alleged plotters in the 9/11 attacks in federal court in New York City. (Eventually those cases were moved to military courts.)
I had very high hopes for Holder when Obama appointed him, and while he’s far from the worst in the current cabinet, he’s probably the most disappointing from my perspective. As Eric Posner explains well here, “Holder’s Justice Department has helped suppress civil liberties that interfere with what the Bush administration called the ‘war on terror,’ the currently nameless global operation to confront Islamic terrorism wherever it appears.” Although Holder doesn’t explicitly condone torture, the Department of Justice failed to prosecute CIA officials involved in torturing suspects.
Any comments about Holder’s legacy are welcome in this thread. I’ve enclosed below Senator Chuck Grassley’s comment on the attorney general’s plans to step down, and will update this post as needed with other Iowa reaction to the news.
P.S.-Although an early 2009 speech by Holder is now considered a “stumble” or gaffe, there was some truth in his observation, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”
Statement from Senator Chuck Grassley, September 25
Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made the following statement after press reports indicated that Attorney General Eric Holder will resign when a successor is confirmed.
“I voted to confirm Mr. Holder to be Attorney General, and I had high hopes for his leadership. But, Attorney General Holder’s tenure has been strained by his lack of respect for Congress, the American taxpayer, and the laws on the books.
“The Attorney General has committed to staying until a successor has been confirmed, so the Senate can exercise its constitutional responsibility to vet a nominee thoroughly. The country faces difficult challenges that the chief law enforcement officer must meet head on. It will take someone who has the right qualifications and experience to fill the job. Rather than rush a nominee through the Senate in a lame duck session, I hope the President will now take his time to nominate a qualified individual who can start fresh relationships with Congress so that we can solve the problems facing our country.
“I wish Attorney General Holder well in the future.”