You expect a Democratic attorney general to make Republicans unhappy, which Holder has, on several fronts. He was even held in contempt of Congress by House Republicans over the “Fast and Furious” gun operation. After which he insisted it was no skin off his back: “For me to really be affected by what happened, I’d have to have respect for the people who voted in that way. And I didn’t, so it didn’t have a huge impact on me.”
The problem is, Holder has also disappointed and made a lot of Democrats angry — both by his actions and, worse, his inactions. After Sept. 11, then-President George W. Bush personally approved the use of torture and massive phone snooping without approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, both of which were illegal acts. Where was Eric Holder? Missing in action.
Following the Sept. 11 attacks, Holder even defended the controversial “extreme rendition” program adopted by the Bush administration, which reportedly shipped suspected terrorists to countries where they could be legally tortured.
In 2008, Wall Street bankers brought this nation to the brink of economic collapse and robbed Americans of trillions of dollars in savings through the marketing of investments they knew to be worthless. Some of them clearly broke the law, yet not one has been charged, prosecuted or sent to prison. Where was Eric Holder? Missing in action. It’s probably the biggest white collar crime in history, yet Holder reacted as if nobody on Wall Street did anything wrong.
In 2011, more than 30 states enacted some form of voter suppression law — from requiring photo ID to cutting back on early voting — thereby making it more difficult for people to vote. Such actions were a blatant violation of the Voting Rights Act, not to mention the Constitution. Where was Eric Holder? Again, with few exceptions, notably South Carolina and Florida, he was missing in action.
Yet somehow Holder found time to continue the aimless prosecution of former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) — a case that produced nothing but a pointless replay of his sexual peccadilloes, yet cost taxpayers millions and ended in a mistrial. He found time to shut down dozens of medical marijuana clinics in California and warn residents of Washington and Colorado that he’d continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws, even after voters in those two states approved the recreational use of marijuana.
Most grievously, his Department of Justice also found time to raid the phone records of the Associated Press, a wholesale assault on the First Amendment. And they did so in violation of the department’s own guidelines, which require that Justice, instead of engaging in a two-month fishing expedition, first notify any reporter or news organizations of its request for phone records and then narrow the search to the specific dates or calls in question. Even though Holder recused himself from the actual investigation of AP, it happened on his watch and under his policies.
Now we learn that the Justice Department used the same tactics in 2009, in yet another leak investigation, against James Rosen of Fox News. In Rosen’s case, the Department seized his personal emails, tracked his traffic in and out of federal buildings and even branded him a “criminal co-conspirator” — merely for doing his job!
And, while Republicans have been deliberately slow to confirm Obama’s judicial nominees, the DOJ’s been slow to submit nominations. As of April, 62 out of 85 vacancies on federal district and circuit courts had no nominees.
Granted, Eric Holder has done some good things, like no longer defending the Defense of Marriage Act and attempting to try terrorist suspects in federal courts, here in the United States. But the bad or inadequate far outweighs the good. Holder has overstayed his welcome.
It doesn’t have to get ugly. There’s no need for Holder to be fired. He can simply be encouraged to step down with the classic spin: “I’ve decided to spend more time with my family.” After all, they haven’t seen enough of him lately. And we’ve seen far too much.
Bill Press is host of a nationally-syndicated radio show.