Holder is top choice for attorney general

Obama's Transition

November 19, 2008|By Josh Meyer | Josh Meyer,Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama wants to nominate former top Justice Department official Eric Holder Jr. to be his attorney general, and his transition team is trying to gauge whether there is sufficient bipartisan support for him in the Senate, sources close to the transition confirmed yesterday.

Those sources said internal vetting is still being completed and that top transition team members and Democratic allies of Obama are working to make sure that Holder would not face any significant obstacles during the Senate confirmation process. One source close to the transition team said Holder has been offered the job "conditionally."

Holder, a well-regarded prosecutor turned corporate lawyer in private practice, would be the nation's first black attorney general. He did not respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment, and the Obama transition team declined to discuss the matter, except to say that he had neither been offered the job nor accepted it.

Holder, 57, has been a trailblazer through much of his career. He became the first African-American to serve as deputy attorney general in 1997, in the Clinton administration, and as acting attorney general, in the first few weeks of the Bush administration. He has also been a superior court judge in Washington and was the top prosecutor in the high-profile U.S. attorney's office there.

In recent years, Holder has been a litigation partner in the Washington office of the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, handling, among other matters, complex civil and criminal cases, domestic and international advisory matters and internal corporate investigations. He has been an Obama campaign supporter and was a leader of his vice-

presidential search committee.

He also has one unusual family qualification. Holder's wife, an obstetrician, delivered incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's daughter, the Associated Press reported.

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