Eric Holder, 64, the first African-American to become the U.S attorney general and the first U.S. AG to be held in contempt by Congress, stepped down from his office Friday after a six-year tenure.
His parting words and a brief review on his achievements were overshadowed by his highly emotional staffers, many of whom started crying when saying their AG goodbye.
Holder encouraged his former colleagues and hundreds of DOJ attorneys by telling them that they had achieved “historic and big things” over the course of the last six years. The former AG expressed its content with DOJ staff’s determination to restore the department to what it was meant to be – an agency with no political ties that was focused on its primary mission to make sure that justice was served.
But Holder’s departure was delayed as congressional senators debated 165 days whether to nominate Loretta Lynch as the next U.S. attorney general. Three years ago, Holder was held in contempt by the House for declining to turn over significant papers that could have shed more light into the gun-trafficking business at the Mexican border.
But as Ms. Lynch’s nomination was being delayed, Eric Holder handed out several armbands with a Free Eric Holder message as a sign of protest. Taking into account the delay, he is currently the attorney general with the forth longest tenure in U.S. history.
On Friday, Holder recalled that the Department of Justice tried terrorists in U.S. courts rather than prosecute them in Cuba according to U.S army procedures as the Republicans wished. He also said that that dispute was “dead” and there was no point mentioning it further.
Holder also recalled that the DOJ successfully prosecuted some of the culprits that caused the 2008 financial crisis. Those culprits included some high-profile financial institutions from which the department has recouped billions of dollars.
Holder also mentioned the department efforts to put an end to any acts of discrimination against transgender people, gay and lesbians by declining to enforce the Defense of Marriage act.
He also expressed his support for the LGBT cause and hopes that the biggest civil rights issue of our times – the same-sex marriage – would be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court by the end of June.
Holder also hopes that its successor would continue his work on criminal justice reform.
“We are a nation that incarcerates too many people for too long and for no good law enforcement reason. […] Again, work remains to be done, but we are on our way,”
he added on the issue.
He was also glad that the DOJ prevented the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger because it would had been “extremely anti-competitive” and against the interests of American people.
Although Bill Cassidy pushed a set of provisions which prohibit taxpayer money from being spent on portraits of official members of the cabinet or Congress, Holder has his own portrait which was unveiled a couple of months ago but it was planned since 2009, long before Cassidy’s provisions went into effect. Holder was pleased with his portrait which had his child’s name hidden in it, as well as it depicted the button of his jacket and the eagle’s wings according to his wish.
Image Source: NEO-Neocone