- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced his resignation Thursday afternoon, declaring “our list of accomplishments is real.”

“I will leave the Department of Justice, but I will never leave the work,” Mr. Holder said in an event in the East Room of the White House with President Obama at his side.

Mr. Holder said the administration over the last six years has made “historic gains” and “fought to protect the most sacred of American rights — the right to vote.”

Mr. Obama said Mr. Holder has done “a superb job,” and has been “relentless” in his defense of the Voting Rights Act.

The president praised Mr. Holder for working to reform the criminal justice system.



“He’s worked passionately to make sure our criminal justice system remains the best in the world,” Mr. Obama said. “Since I took office, the overall crime rate and the overall incarceration rate have gone down by about 10 percent.”

Mr. Holder, 63, became the nation’s first black attorney general in 2009, and is now the fourth longest-serving person in the post in history.

He has taken the lead in counter-terrorism cases during his tenure, as well as pushing for the expansion of gun regulations and civil-rights laws, and the reduction of some mandatory sentences.

But Mr. Holder’s tenure has also been marred by scandal, including the “Fast and Furious” program where Justice Department agents lost track of shipments of guns that wound up in the hands of Mexican criminals. Congress has cited him for contempt for refusing to turn over documents from the operation.

The president said Mr. Holder approached him over the summer and told him that “six years was a pretty good run.” He noted that Mr. Holder has served in various posts at Justice under six presidents.

Mr. Obama did not announce Mr. Holder’s replacement Thursday, and Mr. Holder said he would stay on in the post until a new nominee is confirmed by the Senate.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is often mentioned as a possible replacement for Mr. Holder, but he told reporters Thursday that the job is “not one for me right now.” He was traveling to Washington Thursday for reasons that weren’t clear.

Facing the possible loss of the Senate in November, the president could opt for a lower-profile choice such as Mr. Holder’s top deputy at the Justice Department, James Cole.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said his vote against Mr. Holder’s confirmation in 2009 has proved the correct one.

“Holder has placed ideological commitments over a commitment to the rule of law,” Mr. McConnell said. “These are not the qualities the American people look for in the nation’s highest law enforcement official. So I will be scrutinizing the president’s replacement nominee to ensure the Justice Department finally returns to prioritizing law enforcement over partisan concerns.”

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