Eric Holder is no stranger to the Justice Department. In 1997, he was appointed Deputy Attorney General by President Bill Clinton, serving until the end of Clinton's term. As Barack Obama's AG, he will have to decide what to do with terror suspects now held in Guantanamo Bay, navigate the Administration's approach to the war on terror and restore the morale of an agency still reeling over the attorney firing scandals that occurred during the tenure of Alberto Gonzales.
Born Jan. 21, 1951 in New York City to immigrant parents from Barbados.
Attended Stuyvesant High Schoolone of New York City's top public high schoolsand Columbia University.
In 1993, nominated by President Clinton and confirmed as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, the nation's largest U.S. Attorney office. Four years later, became Deputy Attorney General. He was the first black person to serve in both positions.
Met Obama in 2004, during a dinner party thrown to welcome the new Senator to Washington, and the two realized they had much in common. Holder became a fundraiser and surrogate for Obama during the campaign.
While working at law firm Covington & Burling, Holder was hired by the NFL to look into the dogfighting charges against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. He was also part of a group that tried to buy that Washington Nationals.
Married to obstetrician Sharon Malone (younger sister of the woman who integrated the University of Alabama). They have three children.
The most controversial moment of Holder's career came at the end of President Clinton's term. On Jan. 19, 2001, the day before President George W. Bush was inaugurated, Holder reviewed a pardon application for fugitive billionaire Marc Rich. He was "neutral leaning toward favorable" on the prospect. The next day, Clinton signed the pardon. When it was revealed that Rich's wife had donated heavily to Clinton's presidential library, it was suspected that favor trading was involved. Both Congress and a grand jury investigated the case.
"If a Republican official had engaged in this kind of activity, he would never receive Senate confirmation." Texas Rep. Lamar Smith on Holder's involvement in the Marc Rich situation. (New York Times, Dec. 2, 2008)
"The Justice Department has a history of reaching out to help the African-American community to battle racism... He'll be sensitive to concerns that the system has not given some people a fair break." Howard University Law School Dean Kurt Schmoke, on Holder's nomination to head the Justice Department. (USA Today, Dec. 1, 2008)
"[Holder was] at his best when he was telling me that things would not worked out as planned. He wasn't afraid to stand up and say he was opposed to something." Former attorney general Janet Reno, under whom Holder served as deputy. (USA Today, Dec. 1, 2008)
"I have been angry, hurt, and even somewhat disillusioned by what has transpired over the past two weeks with regard to this pardon." On the Feb. 2001 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the Rich case. (The American Lawyer, June 5, 2008)
"I'm not sure he's ready for my New York game." On Obama's hoop chances against Holder, a regular basketball player himself. (New York Times, Dec. 1, 2008)
"It seems to me you can think of these people as combatants and we are in the middle of the war. And it seems to me that you could probably say, looking at precedent, that you are going to detain these people until war is over, if that is ultimately what we wanted to do." On the Bush Administration's Guantanamo policy. (CNN, January 2002)
"We must close our detention center in Guantanamo Bay. A great nation should not detain people, military or civilian, in dark places beyond the reach of law. Guantanamo Bay is an international embarassment." On Gitmo now, during an American Constitution Society meeting this past summer. (Associated Press, Dec. 2, 2008)