Comments On Eric Holder To Be Attorney General of The United States

[Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) today joined leaders of national law enforcement organizations at a press conference on Capitol Hill in support of the designation of Eric Holder to be the next Attorney General of the United States.  Holder’s designation was announced on December 1, 2008, and hearings on the nomination are scheduled for January 15, 2009.  Holder’s nomination has received wide support from law enforcement organizations, civil rights groups, crime victims’ advocates and former Republican officials.  Leahy’s comments from Thursday’s press conference follow.]

The announcement by President-elect Barack Obama that Eric Holder was his pick to be the next Attorney General of the United States – the nation’s top law enforcement officer – was greeted by broad, bipartisan support from many corners.  Today, I am here with representatives from leading law enforcement organizations to talk about the strong, independent record Eric Holder will bring to the Department of Justice and their support for his confirmation.

After my first meeting with Eric Holder after his designation was announced in early December, I referred to him as a prosecutor’s prosecutor.  Republicans and Democrats alike have applauded his integrity and independence.  In fact, I have here a letter from former FBI Director Louie Freeh, it reads in part: “I am certain that Eric has the highest legal competence, total integrity, leadership, and, most importantly, the political independence to discharge faithfully the immense trust this Nation reposes in its Attorney General.”

There can be no higher compliment paid to a nominee. 

Mr. Holder has served as an anti-corruption prosecutor, judge – appointed by President Reagan no less – U.S. Attorney, and Deputy Attorney General.  Eric Holder has served at nearly every level of the Department of Justice, and has earned the respect of law enforcement officers and organizations across the country.  His nomination has garnered support from the civil rights community, victims’ rights advocates and former Republican officials.

Some however now seem intent on moving the bar when it comes to considering Mr. Holder’s nomination.  Not a single Republican member of the Senate voted against the nomination of Alberto Gonzales.  Nor has a single Republican member of the Senate said they were wrong to support that nomination.  By whatever standard they used to make their decision to support Alberto Gonzales to be Attorney General, the nomination of Eric Holder far, far exceeds it.  He has experience in law enforcement and a record of strong, independent and effective action as an anti-corruption prosecutor against Democrats and Republicans.  He has experience at the Justice Department and will inspire and lead its hardworking prosecutors and agents. 

I hope that no double standard will be applied to this well qualified nominee.  He meets any fair standard by which to judge this nomination.  Surely this highly qualified nominee, with a lifetime of public service, law enforcement experience, and strong character meets any fair test.  

I’d like to welcome all the law enforcement representatives here today in support of Mr. Holder’s nomination.  They have a commanding presence.  And now Tom Nee, the president of the National Association of Police Organizations, will say a few words before we take a few questions. 

# # # # #

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693