This post has been updated.
The New Yorker reported that U.S. attorney general Eric Holder plans to step down this year, but the U.S. Justice Department is pushing back on that report.
In a feature story for the magazine’s Feb. 17 issue (sub. req.), writer Jeffrey Toobin said that Holder told him that Holder would leave his post in 2014, though he also said that he planned to remain as attorney general “well into” the year.
But the Justice Department provided TPM a partial transcript of Toobin’s interview with Holder, and in it, the attorney general did not explicitly say that he would resign in 2014, but that he would stay “well into 2014.”
“The most the Attorney General has said is that he still has a lot he wants to accomplish on issues like criminal justice reform, voting rights and LGBT equality,” Justice spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement. “He did not speak about his plans any further than that.”
As recently as Nov. 19, Holder, the first African-American attorney general in U.S. history, told CBS 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.
Congressional Republicans have frequently criticized Holder’s policies, and 20 House Republicans filed articles of impeachment in November. He was found in contempt of Congress by the House in June 2012 for failing to release requested documents related to Operation Fast and Furious.
The transcript, as provided by the Justice Department, is below.
Toobin: “And how long are you going to be the Attorney General? You mentioned ‘as long as I’m Attorney General’…”
Holder: “Well, you know, I’ve still got things I want to do. I mean, I’ve got this fight, this criminal justice reform stuff that I talked about, I guess, in August at the ABA. I’ve got financial cases I’m still working on. So I’m going to be here for a while.
Toobin: “Do you want to put any more specific – this is like journalism … I have to ask all these questions. If you don’t want to tell me, don’t tell me. Like, do you know? A year? Two years?”
Holder: “I guess, I think what I’ve said is, I’m going to be here certainly into 2014.”
Toobin: “That’s a big commitment. It’s in like three weeks…”
Holder: “I think I’ve said, ‘well into 2014.’”
Toobin: “I see. ‘Well into’? OK, very good.”