Given that Eric Holder has served the longest on Barack Obama’s Cabinet, it’s not exactly unusual that rumors would arise in a second term that the Attorney General might head out to pasture sometime soon. In fact, even Eric Holder wondered about it last November, when he questioned whether he still had “gas in the tank” for a second term. Later, he announced that he’d stick around for a year to get Obama through the transition to another term, but probably hit the road after that.
Is the year up? After listening to Holder’s litany of “I don’t knows” in yesterday’s House hearing, one could make the argument that Holder’s already checked out of Justice. Libtalker Bill Press would like to make it official:
I still haven't heard a legit justification for the subpoenaing the AP phone records. They didn't notify AP, they didn't narrow search.
— Bill Press (@BillPressPod) May 16, 2013
Talk radio host and former chairman of the California Democratic Party Bill Press said Thursday that Attorney General Eric Holder should be fired over the subpoena of reporter phone records.
With his tweets, Press becomes one of the first prominent liberal voices to call for the dismissal of Holder over the records seizure.
First? Well, Dana Milbank’s column last night came close to calling for Holder to step down. I linked it earlier, but this part is worth noting, too:
In a sense, the two topics that dogged Holder most on Wednesday — the AP phone records and the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups — were one and the same. In both cases, Americans are being punished and intimidated for exercising their right of free expression — by the taxing authorities, in the conservatives’ case, and by federal prosecutors, in the reporters’ case.
But Holder cared so little about those two issues that he said not a peep about either the IRS or the AP in his opening statement. When he was questioned about the AP case, his first response was to suggest the criticism of him was political. “I mean, there’s been a lot of criticism,” Holder said. “In fact, the head of the RNC called for my resignation, in spite of the fact that I was not the person involved in that decision.”
Resignation or not, there are people looking for an AG who takes the job seriously. Chicago columnist Michael Sneed writes that Holder’s days are numbered, and that the White House already has his replacement in mind — Deval Patrick:
Sneed is told that Attorney General Eric “Fast and Furious” Holder’s days are numbered.
Sneed hears President Barack Obama, who is this/close to Holder, has set his sights on Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick as a possible replacement “when the heat dies down on the latest hot-button scandals to hit the U.S. Justice Department,” said a top White House source. …
“The president will wait until the heat dies down — and a little time has passed beyond that — before he does anything to Holder because Holder is a close pal, and that’s a big deal in the White House,” said a top Dem source. “Holder is also a close buddy of Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett,” the source said. “Obama knows a change has to be made, but he wants Holder to leave with his reputation intact.”
It’s a little too late for that, especially after yesterday’s incoherent performance on Capitol Hill. But Deval Patrick is an unlikely choice for Holder’s replacement. First, why would Patrick want the job in the first place? The DoJ will be playing defense for the next three years on all of these scandals and perhaps more, since Holder apparently can’t count the times he’s approved the seizure of media phone records. As a two-time governor of a relatively populous state, Patrick at least on paper has the credentials to run for Obama’s job, and there is no reason to saddle himself with Obama’s scandals before at least giving that a try.
Second, with all of these scandals in play, Obama would have to nominate someone whom Republicans can at least grudgingly support in a confirmation vote. With the legal and political morass at Justice in the AP phone records seizure and Operation Fast and Furious, the next AG nominee will have to be seen as someone reasonably independent of the Obama administration, with real reform credentials. Senate Republicans will block any nominee that lacks those credentials with these scandals in play, and this time the politics will be on their side. Needless to say, Patrick doesn’t fill that bill.