“It’s time for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign,” said Jay Sekulow in FoxNews.com. When it was revealed last month that his Justice Department had spied on journalists from Fox News and the Associated Press who published classified leaks, the nation’s top law-enforcement official denied any responsibility, telling Congress that “the potential prosecution of the press” was “not something that I’ve ever been involved with.” But this was not true. It’s been revealed that Holder not only knew of the leak investigations—he signed a search warrant application in 2010 calling Fox News reporter James Rosen a probable “co-conspirator” in a crime. By misleading Congress, Holder may have committed perjury—and that’s merely his “latest offense.” Last year he was held in contempt of Congress when he stonewalled an investigation into the Fast and Furious gun-running fiasco, and on matters large and small has consistently “misled Congress and the American people.” Even some Obama aides say they’re tired of Holder’s penchant for “polarizing episodes” and would like to see him step down, said Peter Baker in The New York Times. “The White House is apoplectic about him, and has been for a long time,” said a Democratic insider.
Holder has done nothing wrong, said Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post. The Justice Department investigated Rosen but did not prosecute him, so Holder told the truth. The investigation’s real target was the State Department employee who leaked confidential information about North Korea. Ordinarily, Republicans would applaud a national-security prosecution, but Holder is now a central figure in their “proxy war with President Obama.” There’s “an undeniable thread of racial resentment” in the GOP’s hatred of Holder, said Alex Seitz-Wald in Salon.com. The tone was set in 2009, when Holder said the U.S. was “essentially a nation of cowards” on the subject of race—a comment that lit up conservative talk radio and Fox for a week. Conservatives were further infuriated when Holder compared voter ID laws to Jim Crow, with The Wall Street Journal accusing Holder of trying to “stir up racial incitement.”
There are better reasons for this attorney general to go, said Jonathan Turley in USA Today. “Holder is what we call a ‘sin eater’ inside the Beltway—high-ranking associates who shield presidents from responsibility for their actions.” When the Obama administration decided to expand the warrantless surveillance of Americans’ emails, Holder was dispatched to justify the policy. When the president wanted the authority to kill U.S. citizens by drone “without charge or trial,” it was the attorney general who concocted the legal excuse. Justice’s press investigations serve as further proof that Holder—like Obama—has no respect for “privacy rights, press freedom, and due process.” Still, Holder won’t be fired or quit immediately, said Peter Wehner in CommentaryMagazine.com. Obama will wait to see if Holder is doing “durable damage” to his administration. If he is, the president—a product of the ruthless “Chicago Way”—will let his fall guy take the fall.
Actually, Holder is likely to keep his job—but only because of the same GOP now calling for his head, said Joan Walsh in Salon.com. Senate Republicans have been using the filibuster to block Obama’s nominations. Those same senators would vehemently object to anyone Obama would select to replace Holder—so rather than get tied up in another confirmation battle for months, Obama will stick with the damaged guy he’s got. Republican extremism, in other words, “may be the ultimate reason Holder holds on.”