Eric Holder has had his share of controversy in his six years as U.S. attorney general, but why is he quitting now?
Last month he told the Hill he “will proudly accept” the label of “activist attorney general” and was described as a man “with new energy, not like a man ready to leave his job.”
But with midterm elections approaching, his penchant for division may have worn out its welcome, and Obama has enough problems on his plate.
First, a rundown of Holder’s high-profile struggles:
Fast and Furious:
Between 2009 and 2011, Operation Fast and Furious was launched by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The purpose of the plan was to allow guns be freely sold along southern border states, in the hopes of tracking them to Mexican drug cartels. The plan was a disaster with CNN estimating 1,400 guns were lost in Mexico. Guns sold during the operation were found at the scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder in Arizona in 2010.
In May 2011, Eric Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee that he had only heard of Fast and Furious in April 2011. Later, investigators discovered that Holder had knowledge of the operation since 2010. In 2011, in front of a Senate Judiciary, Holder said Fast and Furious “flawed in concept, as well as in execution.” Holder rejected calls for him to resign in 2012.
Held in Contempt by Congress:
After the Fast and Furious debacle, Holder was held in contempt by Congress. When put to a vote in the house, Holder contempt charge was upheld by a vote of 255-67. In total, 17 Democrats voted against Holder.
Nation of Cowards:
In 2009, during Black History Month, he called America a “nation of cowards” when it came to racial discussions. Watch the video his controversial speech above.
Black Panther Case:
At the time of the 2008 presidential election, members of the New Black Panther Party were accused of intimidating voters into voting for President Obama. Holder was later accused of not properly pursuing the case.
Phone Tapping Reporters:
The Department of Justice was found to have obtained two months of phone conversations from Associated Press reporters and editors.
The Timing: Why Now?
In February 2014, Holder told the New Yorker magazine “I’m going to be here for a while…I think I’ve said, ‘well into 2014.'”
In an appearance at NYU, just two days before his resignation, Holder spoke to students about the nation’s “critical opportunity” to change policing. This speech came in the wake of Holder’s involvement in the Michael Brown shooting. Since the teen was slain in August, most Holder’s media appearances have been relating to Ferguson, Missouri, where Brown was shot dead by cop Darren Wilson.
At a separate appearance at NYU on September 17, Holder spoke explicity about Ferguson, Missouri, saying:
I also carry with me the mistrust that some citizens harbor for those who wear the badge.
But, ultimately we don’t know why Holder has chosen this moment to announce his resignation.