Holder Official Portrait
Image Courtesy of the Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder's official portait

President Obama Gives Teary Send-Off to Attorney General Holder

Feb 27, 2015

The President got misty-eyed during the unveiling of Attorney General Eric Holder’s official portrait Friday when he shared a story about the impact he believes Holder has had outside of the Department of Justice.

President Obama said he hosted a number of young men who are mentees under his My Brother's Keeper initiative, which is celebrating its first anniversary, for a White House lunch on Friday. As the students, all black and Latino young men from around the Washington area, went around the table sharing their life aspirations, one said he wanted to be the Attorney General when he grew up. That moment clearly touched the President, who wiped away tears as he shared it with the departing Attorney General.

“I think about all the young people out there who have seen you work and have been able to get an innate sense that you’re a good man,” Obama said. “Having good men in positions of power and authority who are willing to fight for what’s right … that’s a rare thing. That’s a powerful thing.”

Obama listed Holder’s accomplishments as the third longest serving Attorney General and the first African American to hold the job. Throughout his tenure Holder made criminal-justice reform and civil rights priorities of the Justice Department, including his recent efforts to challenge strict voting laws.

During his prepared remarks, a teary-eyed Holder said there was still work to be done on civil rights and criminal-justice reform.

“Make no mistake. We still have unfinished business and work to do,” Holder said. “In the defense of our nation we must always adhere to the values that define us. And, at all costs, the right to vote must be protected.”

The unveiling came just days after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve the nomination of Loretta Lynch, who was tapped to replace Holder. The President said the Department of Justice is being left in "outstanding hands."

Photos: What Obama's Hugs Meant

President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel embrace during a press conference to announce Hagel's departure at the White House on Nov. 24, 2014 in Washington, DC.
You can see it by Obama’s bowed head and Hagel’s sorrowful face – this is an “I’m sorry” hug, plain and simple.Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images
President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel embrace during a press conference to announce Hagel's departure at the White House on Nov. 24, 2014 in Washington, DC.
President Barack Obama gives White House press secretary Jay Carney a hug after announcing that Carney will step down later next month, during a surprise visit to the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, May 30, 2014. The president announced Carney's departure in a surprise appearance at in the White House press briefing room Friday. He said principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest will take over the job. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: U.S. President Barack Obama gives a hug to Dallas nurse Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House October 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Pham, a nurse who was infected with Ebola from treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and was first diagnosed on October 12, was declared free of the virus on Friday. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
US-WEATHER-STORM-SANDY-OBAMA
FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2012, file photo, President Barack Obama, left, embraces Donna Vanzant, right, during a tour of a neighborhood effected by Superstorm Sandy in Brigantine, N.J. Vanzant is a owner of North Point Marina, which was damaged by the storm. In the end, President Obama won re-election exactly the way his campaign had predicted: running up big margins with women and minorities, mobilizing a sophisticated registration and get-out-the-vote operation and focusing narrowly on the battleground states that would determine the election. Still, there were detours along the way. Superstorm Sandy upended the campaign in its closing days, though the political impact appears to have been positive for Obama, giving him a high-profile opportunity to show voters presidential leadership(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama kisses Aung San Suu Kyi following joint remarks at her residence in Yangon, November 19, 2012. President Obama became the first serving U.S. president to visit Myanmar on Monday, trying during a whirlwind six-hour trip to strike a balance between praising the government's progress in shaking off military rule and pressing for more reform. REUTERS/Jason Reed (MYANMAR - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3ALMW
President Barack Obama, right, is picked-up and lifted off the ground by Scott Van Duzer, left, owner of Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant during an unannounced stop, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in Ft. Pierce, Fla. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
You can see it by Obama’s bowed head and Hagel’s sorrowful face – this is an “I’m sorry” hug, plain and simple.
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images
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