Attorney General Eric Holder (D) is announcing his resignation today.
Holder was appointed Attorney General by President Barack Obama (D) on January 20, 2009—the first day of his presidency. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 2, 2009, by a bipartisan 75-21 vote. Holder is the first African American to hold the office.
During a rocky and corrupt tenure at the Department of Justice, Holder has repeatedly stonewalled Congressional investigations of wrongdoing within the agency. In the most notable case, Holder refused to provide department documents related to illegal gun-running operations carried out between 2006 and 2011 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE). He also committed perjury by lying to Congress about when he found out about the operation, which was dubbed ‘Fast and Furious,’ and then wrongfully accused his predecessor of having been briefed on it.
The gun-running itself occurred during both the George W. Bush (R) and Obama administrations, but Holder’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation led the U.S. House of Representatives to vote by a bipartisan 255-67 majority to find him in contempt. Holder was the first sitting cabinet-level official to ever be found in contempt of Congress. U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen Jr. declined to pursue criminal charges in the case, although Machen was part of Holder’s Justice Department and was subject to an obvious conflict of interest. Holder himself declined to follow the appropriate procedure and appoint an independent special prosecutor in the case, for the obvious reason that he would himself be the subject of the investigation.
Holder also presided over the Justice Department’s unprecedented harassment of media outlets, seizing two months of phone records from the Associated Press (AP) and obtaining a warrant to read Fox News Channel reporter James Rosen’s emails, even labeling him as a ‘co-conspirator’ in a State Department document leak. These blatant First Amendment violations were never investigated or rectified, and nobody in the Justice Department has yet faced charges. Holder did claim to feel a “creeping sense of personal remorse” about the incidents. The Department of Justice under Holder was also charged with investigating the Internal Revenue Service’s unconstitutional political targeting of conservative non-profit organizations. That investigation has also resulted in no charges.
It is expected that Holder will remain in office until his successor has been appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.