Attorney General Eric Holder to Resign

The United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Thursday that he would resign, his office, a move that will take effect once his successor is confirmed. Holder is the 82nd Attorney General and the first African American to hold the position. He is the fourth-longest serving Attorney General, with five and a half years in office. Along with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, he is one of only three members of President Obama’s original Cabinet still serving.

The timing of Holder’s announcement gives the Administration a chance to use the lame-duck session of Congress, the time between the elections in November and the new session beginning in January, to confirm a potential successor.

According to The Hill, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont has asked the White House to proceed quickly with the nomination process. “I hope that they would be able to decide on a nomination soon,” he said Thursday on MSNBC. “Definitely we should have confirmation hearings as quickly as possible in the Senate.”
Senate Republicans, who could take control of the Chamber following November’s elections, have called on the President to take his time in choosing Holder’s successor so that he or she may be properly vetted. Senator Grassley, the Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee advised, “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 problems facing our country.” Senator Cruz, who is also on the Judiciary Committee, added, “Allowing Democratic senators, many of whom will likely have just been defeated at the polls, to confirm Holder’s successor would be an abuse of power that should not be countenanced.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also issued a statement saying that he “will be scrutinizing the President’s replacement nominee to ensure the Justice Department finally returns to prioritizing law enforcement over partisan concerns.” Although the Republicans are urging caution, last the Senate Democrats used the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster of Executive Branch nominations, so the majority can overcome opposition more easily than in the past.

Although the House does not confirm appointees, House leaders have weighed in on the Attorney General’s time in office and have asked the White House to choose his replacement wisely. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana said, “Eric Holder’s tenure as attorney General has been defined by a lack of respect for the rule of law and further erosion of the public’s trust in President Obama’s administration…I urge President Obama to take this opportunity of Holder’s resignation to restore fairness and accountability to his administration by nominating someone who will carry out the responsibilities of this important office in a fair and impartial manner.”

President Obama joined Eric Holder at a press conference on Thursday where the Attorney General announced his resignation, calling the announcement “bittersweet” while praising the “superb job” he has done throughout his forty-year career in the Justice Department. The entire fourteen-minute press conference is below.

The Hill: GOP to Obama: Don’t Replace Holder In Lame-Duck Congress

Press Release: McConnell on the Resignation of Eric Holder

Press Release: Whip Scalise Statement on Resignation of Attorney General Holder

Washington Post: Transcript: President Obama’s Remarks on Resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder

Roll Call: Eric Holder to Resign

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