Eric H. Holder, Jr.

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Eric H. Holder, Jr. was named as U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for U.S. Attorney General on December 1, 2008. [1]

At the time, Holder was a litigation partner for Covington & Burling, handling "complex civil and criminal cases, domestic and international advisory matters and internal corporate investigations." [2] At the law and lobby firm, Holder represented "UBS Financial Services Inc. in an alleged discrimination case, Merck & Co. in a matter related to the company's drug pricing and sales practices, Chiquita Brands International Inc. in a plea deal arising from a subsidiary's payments to Colombian paramilitary groups, and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s board of directors in litigation related an internal leak investigation. Holder also registered as a lobbyist while in private practice, representing Global Crossing Inc., and several other companies." [3] Holder's Covington & Burling salary was "more than $2 million dollars" a year. The annual salary for the U.S. Attorney General is $186,600. [4]


Holder was involved in then-President Bill Clinton's controversial "2001 pardon of Marc Rich, a billionaire financier who had fled the country rather than face federal tax evasion charges," reported the New York Times. "Holder had more than a half-dozen contacts with Mr. Rich's lawyers over 15 months, including phone calls, e-mail and memorandums that helped keep alive Mr. Rich's prospects for a legal resolution to his case. And Mr. Holder's final opinion on the matter -- a recommendation to the White House on the eve of the pardon that he was 'neutral, leaning toward' favorable -- helped ensure that Mr. Clinton signed the pardon despite objections from other senior staff members." [5]

In 2004, "Holder helped negotiate an agreement with the Justice Department for Chiquita Brands International that involved the fruit company's payment of $1.7-million in 'protection money' to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, AUC, in direct violation of U.S. laws prohibiting this kind of transaction to a terrorist organization. These right-wing paramilitaries with close links to the Colombian Army are responsible for the murders of over 4,000 people in the banana-growing region of Urabá, not to mention the thousands of others killed by their fighters throughout the country over the past 15 years," reported Upside Down World. "In the agreement brokered by Holder, Chiquita officials pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a fine of $25 million, to be processed over a 5-year period. However, not one Chiquita official involved in the illegal transactions was forced to serve time for their actions." [6]


After graduating from Columbia Law School, Holder "moved to Washington, DC and joined the Department of Justice as part of the Attorney General's Honors Program. He was assigned to the newly formed Public Integrity Section in 1976 and was tasked to investigate and prosecute official corruption on the local, state and federal levels. While at the Public Integrity Section, Mr. Holder participated in a number of prosecutions and appeals involving such defendants as the Treasurer of the state of Florida, the Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, a local judge in Philadelphia, an Assistant United States Attorney in New York City, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a 'capo' in an organized crime family in Pennsylvania." [2]

"In 1988, Mr. Holder was nominated by President Reagan to become an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was confirmed by the Senate and his investiture occurred in October of that year. ... In 1993, President Clinton nominated Mr. Holder to become the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. He was confirmed later that year and served as the head of the largest United States Attorneys office in the nation for nearly four years. He was the first black person to serve in that position. As US Attorney, Mr. Holder created a Domestic Violence Unit to more effectively handle those types of tragic cases, implemented a community prosecution project to work hand in hand with residents and local government agencies in order to make neighborhoods safer, supported a renewed enforcement emphasis on hate crimes so that criminal acts of intolerance would be severely punished, developed a comprehensive strategy to improve the manner in which agencies handled cases involving the abuse of children, launched a community outreach program to reconnect the US Attorney's office with the citizens it serves, revitalized the Victim/Witness Assistance Program to better serve those individuals who were directly affected by crime and developed 'Operation Ceasefire', an initiative designed to reduce violent crime by getting guns out of the hands of criminals." [2]

"In 1997, President Clinton appointed Mr. Holder to serve as Deputy Attorney General, the number two position in the United States Department of Justice. He became the first African-American to serve as Deputy Attorney General. Mr. Holder briefly served under President Bush as Acting Attorney General pending the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft." [2]

"Under [Holder's] guidance, the [Justice] Department developed and issued its guidelines on the criminal prosecution of corporations (the so called 'Holder Memorandum') and issued guidelines on the use of the False Claims Act in civil health care matters. A task force he created also developed the existing regulation concerning the appointment of special counsels to investigate allegations involving high-level federal officials. He began the Department's Children Exposed to Violence Initiative and made Department priorities enforcement efforts in health care fraud, computer crimes and software piracy. Mr. Holder successfully worked to fund and expand nationwide the concept of community prosecution which seeks to connect more directly prosecutors with the citizens they serve. At the request of the President, Mr. Holder began and directed Lawyers for One America a multi-agency, public/private partnership designed to diversify the legal profession and to increase the amount of pro bono work done by the nation's attorneys. As Deputy Attorney General Mr. Holder was at that time the highest-ranking black person in law enforcement in the history of the United States." [2]


Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Barack Obama, "Key members of Obama-Biden national security team announced", Media Release, December 1st, 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 "Biography", Covington & Burling, accessed October 2006.
  3. Evan Perez, "Holder Lists Clients, Compensation Ahead of Confirmation Hearing," Wall Street Journal blog "Washington Wire," December 15, 2008.
  4. Terry Frieden, "Attorney general nominee to give up $2 million-plus salary," CNN blog "Political Ticker," December 15, 2008.
  5. Eric Lichtblau and David Johnston, "Pardon Is Back in Focus for the Justice Nominee," New York Times, December 1, 2008 .
  6. Mario A. Murillo, "The Presidential Transition and Latin America Policy: Optimism for Change Dims as Reality Sets In," Upside Down World, December 3, 2008.
  7. Leadership, American Constitution Society, accessed February 9, 2008.
  8. Directors, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, accessed December 20, 2008.

External resources

External articles

David Ingram and Joe Palazzolo, "Are Conflicts Issues Ahead for Attorney General Nominee? Holder's private practice at Covington & Burling has focused on criminal and ethical investigations and defense of major companies from discrimination claims," Legal Times, December 8, 2008.