Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that when he was criticizing the way he was treated by congressional Republicans last week, he was not referring to race.
“I didn’t say there was a racial component. I was very careful not to say that,” he told the Huffington Post.
Last week during a speech at the National Action Network, Holder deviated from his prepared remarks to comment on his interaction with House Republicans, specifically Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX), at a Judiciary Committee hearing.
Holder said during his speech that he has faced “unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity” over the last few years.
“And if you don’t believe that, you look at the way — and forget about me, forget about me — you look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee,” he said. “That had nothing to do with me. Forget that. What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”
Following Holder’s comments, various journalists and news outlets interpreted Holder’s comments as a reference to his race, prompting coverage of race, the Republican party and the Obama administration.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was asked about Holder’s comments during a press conference. CNN’s “State of the Union” host Candy Crowley discussed the attorney general’s implications with Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) on Sunday.
On a “Fox News Sunday” panel, two conservative pundits said that Holder and President Obama both use race to defend themselves.
But Holder told the Huffington Post that he was just referring to the general atmosphere in Washington, D.C.
“I think what we have seen is kind of a breakdown in civility in Washington, D.C., and that becomes important because I think it has substantive impact,” he said. “And that’s essentially what I was decrying, the fact that we can’t somehow separate whatever our personal feelings are and focus on our functions as members of the executive branch or as legislators. I think that I’ve done a pretty good job in doing that, but it’s frustrating at times.”