Eric Holder To Step Down As Attorney General

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President Obama announced on Thursday that Eric Holder, 63, intends to leave the Justice Department as soon as his successor is confirmed. Eric Holder Jr., the nation’s first black U.S. attorney general, will resign his post after a long tenure that marked 5 1/2 years of fights with Republicans in Congress.

President Obama said that the process of finding a suitable replacement could take as long as till the beginning of 2015. Holder  fourth-longest tenured Attorney General in history; he previously worked as a corruption prosecutor and as deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration.

The sources say a leading candidate for the job is Solicitor General Don Verrilli, the administration’s top representative to the Supreme Court and a lawyer whose judgment and discretion are prized in both DOJ and the White House.

In an emotional ceremony at the White House on Thursday, President Obama said that saying goodbye to Holder was “bittersweet.” He described Holder as an attorney general that has a “deep, abiding commitment to equal justice under the law,” and to taking steps that further guarantee everyone’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

According to NPR, in his own speech, Holder fought back tears. He said beyond having a strong working relationship with Obama, “I am proud to call you a friend.” Holder said Obama’s administration has “done much to make real the promise of our democracy.” Stepping down now, he said, means the end of his public service. But it doesn’t mean he’ll stop working.