Below are the remarks of Attorney General Eric Holder on his resignation:
I come to this moment with very mixed emotions. Proud of what the men and women of the Department of Justice have accomplished over the last six years and, at the same time, very sad that I will not be a formal part of the great things that this department and this President will accomplish over the next two.I want to thank you, Mr. President, for the opportunity you gave me to serve and for giving me the greatest honor of my professional life. We have been great colleagues, but the bonds between us are much deeper than that. In good times and bad, in things personal and professional, you have been there for me. I am proud to call you my friend. I am also grateful for the support you have given me and the department as we have made real the visions that you and I have always shared. I often think of those early talks between us and our belief that we might help to craft a more perfect Union. Work remains to be done – but our list of accomplishments is real. Over the last six years, our Administration has made historic gains in realizing the principles of the founding documents, and fought to protect the most sacred of American rights: the right to vote. We have begun to realize the promise of equality for our LGBT brothers and sisters and their families. We have begun to significantly reform our criminal justice system and reconnect those who bravely serve in law enforcement with the communities they protect. We have kept faith with our belief in the power of the greatest judicial system the world has ever known to fairly and effectively adjudicate any cases that are brought before it, including those that involve the security of the nation we both love so dearly. We have taken steps to protect the environment and make more fair the rules by which our commercial enterprises operate. And we have held accountable those who would harm the American people either through violent means or the misuse of economic or political power.I have loved the Department of Justice ever since, as a young boy, I watched Robert Kennedy prove during the Civil Rights Movement how the department can – and must – always be a force for that which is right. I hope that I have done honor to the faith you placed in me, Mr. President, and to the legacy of all those that served before me.I would also like to thank the Vice President, who I have known for so many years and in whom I have found great wisdom, unwavering support, and a shared vision of what America can, and should, be. I want to recognize my good friend Valerie Jarrett, whom I’ve been fortunate to work with from the beginning of what started as an improbable, idealistic effort by a young senator from Illinois who we were both right to believe would achieve greatness. I have had the opportunity to serve in your distinguished Cabinet and worked with a White House staff, ably led by Denis McDonough, that has done much to make real the promise of our democracy. And each of the men and women who I have come to know will be lifelong friends.Whatever my accomplishments, they could not have been achieved without the love, support, and guidance of two people who are not with me today. My parents, Eric and Miriam Holder, nurtured me and my accomplished brother William and made us believe in the value of individual effort and the greatness of this nation.My time in public service, which now comes to an end, would not have been possible without the sacrifices – too often unfair – made by the best three kids a father could ask for. Thank you, Maya, Brooke, and Buddy.And finally I want to thank the woman who sacrificed the most and allowed me to follow my dreams. She is the foundation of all that our family is and the basis of all that I have become. My wife, Sharon, is the unsung hero and my life partner. Thank you for all that you have done. I love you.In the months ahead, I will leave the Department of Justice – but I will never leave the work. I will continue to serve and try to find ways to make our nation even more true to its founding ideals. I thank the dedicated public servants who form the backbone of the United States Department of Justice for their tireless work over the past six years, for the efforts they will continue, and for the progress they made that will outlast us all.And I thank you all for joining me on a journey that now moves in another direction, but that will always be guided by the pursuit of justice and aimed at the North Star.
From the White House:
Later today, at a formal event at the White House, Attorney General Holder (pictured) will announce his plans to depart the administration after nearly six years leading the Justice Department. The Attorney General has agreed to remain in his post until the confirmation of his successor.
Holder is the 82nd Attorney General and the first African-American to serve in the role. He currently ranks as the fourth-longest serving Attorney General in United States history; he will have the third-longest tenure if he remains in office into December. He is one of only three Cabinet members from President Obama’s original team still serving in the post to which he was first named.
Attorney General Holder has discussed his plans personally with the President on multiple occasions in recent months, and finalized those plans in an hour-long conversation with the President at the White House residence over Labor Day weekend. At a formal announcement later today, the Attorney General plans to express his personal gratitude to the President for the opportunity to serve in his administration and to lead the Justice Department, which he will call the “greatest honor of my professional life.” He will note he has loved the Justice Department since, when he was a boy, he watched how, under Attorney General Kennedy, the Department played a leadership role in advancing the civil rights movement. During his tenure as Attorney General, Holder has had Attorney General Kennedy’s portrait in his conference room.
The Attorney General has no immediate plans once he steps down. He does, however, wish to stay actively involved in some of the causes to which he has devoted his time in office. In particular, following his recent visit to Ferguson, Missouri, he has spoken with friends and associates about his wish to find a way, even after rejoining private life, to continue helping to restore trust between law enforcement and minority communities. As a career prosecutor with strong relationships with law enforcement, as well as the first African-American Attorney General who retains deep ties to leading civil rights organizations, Holder is uniquely positioned to help lead such a project.
Upon his departure, Holder will conclude a career at the Justice Department that, added together, will have spanned 26 years. He has served at almost every level of the Department over that time. He first joined the Department right out of Columbia Law School in 1976 as a member of the Attorney General’s Honors Program. He was assigned to the newly created public integrity unit within the Criminal Division as a career prosecutor focused on corruption cases. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Holder as the U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C. He served in that role until 1997, when he was appointed Deputy Attorney General, becoming the first African-American to serve in that role.
Holder also served for four years as a Superior Court judge in Washington DC. Immediately prior to becoming Attorney General, Holder was in private practice as a litigation partner at the firm Covington & Burling.
The Attorney General’s tenure has been marked by historic gains in the areas of criminal justice reform and civil rights enforcement. The last week alone has seen several announcements related to these signature issues. On Tuesday, in a milestone moment for Holder’s efforts to reduce the trend of ever-increasing incarceration, the Attorney General announced that the federal prison population showed the first annual drop since 1982. On Wednesday, in a new step on sentencing reform, the Attorney General instructed federal prosecutors to no longer ask judges to approve enhanced sentences for defendants simply because they may reject plea deals. And just today, Holderannounced that the Department would become involved in a lawsuit over New York’s public defender program, siding with the plaintiffs in arguing that the defenders’ excessive caseloads are preventing them from providing low-income defendants with adequate counsel.
(A summary, for background use only, of some of Attorney General’s notable accomplishments in these and other areas is attached.)
Holder is expected to remain busy in his remaining time in the job. Over the coming weeks, the Department is expected to impose new curbs on racial profiling in the context of federal law enforcement investigations; the policy is expected to prevent the considerations of other characteristics beyond race—such as ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation—as well as apply the ban to national security investigations for the first time. The Attorney General also hopes to complete, by year’s end, the review on the death penalty that the President ordered the Department to conduct last spring. On financial fraud, the Attorney General has discussed the possibility of individuals soon being criminally charged in connection with an ongoing investigation into several major financial institutions. And in the event that the Supreme Court decides to hear a case on state bans on same-sex marriage this term, Holder has indicated the Department would file a brief consistent with its past support for marriage equality.
On Friday, the Attorney General will travel to the US Attorney’s office in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In doing so, he will complete his goal of visiting all 93 federal prosecutors’ offices across the country during his time in office. He is believed to be the first Attorney General to accomplish this feat. Attorney General Holder reserved Scranton for his final stop because the Middle District of Pennsylvania was the site of his first victory as a Justice Department trial attorney in the late 1970s.
Earlier today, Attorney General Holder privately informed his staff and top officials at the Justice Department about his departure plans. He also placed calls to congressional officials and friends.
Holder is married to Dr. Sharon Malone and has three children.