A choked-up Attorney General Eric Holder paid tribute to his longtime friends and confidantes in the Obama administration as the president announced his ally’s resignation this afternoon.
Holder received an extended standing ovation from family and co-workers packing the State Dining Room at the White House for President Obama’s announcement.
“Over the summer, her came to me, and he said he thought six years was a pretty good run,” Obama said, adding “this is bittersweet.”
“But with his typical dedication, Eric has agreed to stay on as attorney general until I nominate a successor, and that successor is confirmed by the Senate, which means he’ll have a chance to add to a proud career of public service, one that began nearly 40 years ago as a young prosecutor in the department that he now runs,” he continued.
Obama thanked Holder for showing “a deep and abiding fidelity to one of our most cherished ideals as a people, and that is equal justice under the law.”
“Eric’s proudest achievement, though, might be reinvigorating and restoring the core mission to what he calls the conscience of the building, and that’s the Civil Rights Division. He has been relentless against attacks on the Voting Rights Act because no citizen, including our servicemembers, should have to jump through hoops to exercise their most fundamental right. He’s challenged discriminatory state immigration laws that not only risked harassment of citizens and legal immigrants, but actually made it harder for law enforcement to do its job,” he said.
“Under his watch, the department has brought a record number of prosecutions for human trafficking and for hate crimes, as no one in America should be afraid to walk down the street because of the color of their skin, the love in their heart, the faith they practice or the disabilities that they live with.”
Thanks to Holder’s efforts, Obama said, “more Americans, regardless of race or religion, gender or creed, sexual orientation or disability… will receive fair and equal treatment under the law.”
Holder, who will stick around until his as-yet-unnamed replacement is confirmed by the Senate, said he had “very mixed emotions” about the moment.
“I want to thank you, Mr. President, for the opportunity that you gave me to serve and for giving me the greatest honor of my professional life. We have been great colleagues, but the bonds between us are much deeper than that. In good times and in bad, in things personal and in things professional, you have been there for me. I’m proud to call you my friend,” he said.
“I’m also grateful for the support you have given me, and the department, as we have made real the visions that you and I have always shared. I often think of those early talks between us about our belief that we might help to craft a more perfect union. Work remains to be done, but our list of accomplishments is real… I hope that I have done honor to the faith that you have placed in me, Mr. President, and the legacy of all those who have served before me.”
Holder gave special thanks to “good friend” and senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, “whom I’ve been fortunate to work with from the beginning of what started as an improbable idealistic effort by a young senator from Illinois, who we were both right to believe would achieve greatness.”
“I want to thank the woman who sacrificed the most and allowed me to follow my dreams. She’s the foundation of all that our family is and the basis of all that I have become,” he continued after thanking his parents. “My wife Sharon is the unsung hero and she is my life partner. Thank you for all that you have done. I love you.”
Holder vowed that while he may leave the Justice Department, “I will never leave the work.”
“I will continue to serve and try to find ways to make our nation even more true to its founding ideals… I want to thank you all for joining me on a journey that now moves in another direction, but that will always be guided by the pursuit of justice and aimed at the North Star.”