Attorney General Eric Holder will announce his resignation Thursday, a Justice Department official confirmed, bringing an end to the tenure of one of President Barack Obama's closest and longest-serving aides.
Holder is expected to make his announcement later on Thursday, according to NPR, which first reported the news. Obama is scheduled to make a statement from the White House late Thursday afternoon. Holder, 63, and the country's first black attorney general, has been increasingly "adamant" about leaving the Justice Department soon for fear that he'd otherwise be locked in for the rest of Obama's presidency, NPR reports, and plans to do so once a successor is confirmed.
His tenure as attorney general has been the fourth-longest in history, and he served from the outset of Obama's presidency, staying in the Administration long after many other top aides left. It was marked by a focus on civil rights that was praised by some black leaders but criticized by others who expected more from the nation's first black president and first black attorney general.
"No attorney general has demonstrated a civil rights record that is similar to Eric Holder's," Al Sharpton, the civil rights leaders and president of the National Action Network, told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington. He was speaking there Thursday as news of Holder's impending resignation broke. "If reports are true, we have lost in effect the most effective civil rights attorney general in the history of this country," Sharpton said.
Holder also frequently found himself as the favored target of congressional Republicans, especially over the so-called Fast and Furious scandal, in which federal law enforcement agents allowed the sale of weapons so they could track the flow of them to Mexican drug cartels. One of the weapons was found at the scene of the shooting death of an American border patrol agent in 2010.
While serving on the D.C. Superior Court in the late 1980s following an appointment from President Ronald Reagan, Holder earned the nickname Judge Hold 'Em for not setting bail for those accused of violent crimes. He was appointed U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., in 1993, and in 1997, President Bill Clinton tapped him to become Deputy Attorney General.
-Additional reporting by Massimo Calabresi and Maya Rhodan