Tales from the Trail

Attorney General Holder says he plans to stick around for a while

April 26, 2011

Eric Holder, President Barack Obama’s attorney general, has been castigated by liberals and conservatives for his decisions about prosecuting terrorism suspects in criminal courts, defending a law that effectively bans gay marriages and then dropping it, and efforts to go after fraud in the financial markets that have resulted in few senior corporate executives going to jail.

Despite all of that, he still professes a love for the job at the Justice Department and made it clear to reporters on Tuesday that he has no intention of going anywhere, at the very least until his wife says otherwise.

“I’m happy. I’m content. My wife says that I’ve got some more time and as long as she’s in the same place, I’ll be around,” Holder said during his first pen and pad briefing with reporters in over a year. “I like this job. This is my last swing through this great department and a lot of ways is a bittersweet experience.”

“I started here back in 1976 with little experience and lot more hair, actually a lot more hair, the styles were fundamentally different — and don’t anybody come up with a picture, that would really be unfair,” he said.

We dug up this photo (right) from the Reuters archives from 1997 when he was deputy attorney general. But we’ll leave it to others to find one from the 1970s when he served as an attorney in the public corruption section.

Holder acknowledged that not every day as attorney general has been great, which was obvious earlier this month when he finally caved in to demands that the self-professed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, be prosecuted by a military commission instead of in a criminal court.

That decision was a reversal of one of his defining moments, announcing with great fanfare in 2009 that Mohammed and his four alleged co-conspirators would be prosecuted in federal court just blocks from where the World Trade Center twin towers once stood.

“I’ve enjoyed my two years here which is not to say that every day has been great. There have been disappointments, but there have been substantial victories as well,” he said. Holder gave a speech on Monday extolling the virtues of his first two years at the department and tried to lay out his agenda for the coming two years.

He also acknowledged that the daily threat briefing he gets with FBI Director Robert Mueller usually “knocks out whatever good mood I might be in.”

- Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Holder and his wife Sharon Malone at a movie premiere earlier this month); Win McNamee (Holder at a 1997 news conference)

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