Eric Holder Will Leave Office This Year


Attorney General Eric Holder will leave office before the end of 2014:

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the New Yorker that he plans to step down some time this year.

In a feature story for the magazine’s Feb. 17 issue (sub. req.), Holder told Jeffrey Toobin that he will leave his post in 2014, though he also said that he planned to remain as attorney general “well into” the year.

As recently as Nov. 19, Holder, the first African-American attorney general in U.S. history, toldCBS News that he didn’t have “any plans” to step down.

Holder, a graduate of Columbia Law School, first joined the U.S. Justice Department in 1976. President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in 1988. President Bill Clinton tabbed him as Deputy Attorney General in 1997, the first African-American to hold that position. After the Clinton administration, he practiced at a private firm before joining the presidential campaign of Barack Obama.

His tenure as Attorney General has included several landmark cases and decisions on policy, as well as a fair amount of controversy. He has been a vocal critic of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act and Toobin’s feature outlines his plan to continue advocating for voting rights in the wake of the decision. He also announced that the Justice Department would stop defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act in court, and the law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court last June.

Given the fact that recent changes in filibuster rules for Executive Branch nominees make it far easier for the Senate’s currently Democratic majority to confirm nominees and the risk that control of the Senate may change after the November elections, I suspect Holder will resign early enough in the year to allow President Obama to chose a nominee that can be confirmed easily. As for the resignation itself, it isn’t entirely unusual. Going back to the turn of the 20th Century, only five Presidents — William Howard Taft, Warren Harding, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton have had the same Attorney General for the entirety of their time in office and two of those are Presidents who didn’t complete a full term. Going back into the 18th Century to the Washington Administration, there are only nine Presidents prior to 1900 who had the same Attorney General for their full time in office, and that includes William Henry Harrison and James Garfield, who both died early in their terms. So, it’s not unusual to see turnover in the position just as we’ve seen turnover in other positions in the Obama Cabinet since the 2012 election.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. al-Ameda says:

    I’m sure that conservatives will be disappointed that AG Holder is leaving ahead of their impeachment plans. On the other hand we can look forward to strenuous objections to any person nominated by Obama to succeed Holder.

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    He may not be the only one – they have to leave while the Democrats still hold the Senate because if the Republicans control it he will not be able to get a single appointment through.

  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…

  4. edmondo says:

    Eric Holder is leaving? How would anyone know?

  5. Moosebreath says:


    “Eric Holder is leaving? How would anyone know?”

    Because the impeachment proceedings will stop.

  6. edmondo says:


    And the prosecution of Wall Street fraud will begin?

    I didn’t think so.

  7. Just 'nutha... says:

    @edmondo: And since when are Republicans in favor of prosecuting Wall Street fraud? When did Republicans start believing that there even IS Wall Street fraud?