Tuesday morning I called on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign from office. Let me explain why.
The case against Eric Holder could begin and end with his handling of “Operation Fast and Furious,” the program in which our Justice Department deliberately allowed the sale of nearly 2,000 firearms to Mexican drug cartels, and then intentionally lost track of them. In December 2010, two of these guns were found at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, yet Mr. Holder still has not held anyone accountable. Moreover, his sworn testimony has repeatedly been contradicted by internal memos, and his administration has misled Congress.
The gunwalking scandal has destroyed Mr. Holder’s credibility. We need an attorney general who will put justice before politics. Our current attorney general is so fiercely political that he has even blocked my home state of Texas and others from implementing commonsense voter-ID laws. Ironically, Mr. Holder has ignored genuine cases of voter intimidation and failed to protect the voting rights of our men and women in uniform and their families. He is all politics, all the time.
Mr. Holder has a long history of such behavior, which is why I opposed his confirmation. While serving as deputy attorney general under President Clinton, he aggressively pushed his Justice Department colleagues to support clemency for 16 Puerto Rican terrorists, despite strong objections from the FBI and other prominent law-enforcement authorities. Then, in the final weeks of the Clinton administration, he recommended pardoning the fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich, whose wife was a major Democratic donor.
Americans deserve an attorney general whose loyalty to the justice system will trump his loyalty to the White House.
So it came as no surprise when, shortly after taking office as attorney general in 2009, Mr. Holder released classified memos on enhanced interrogation techniques, thereby (1) ignoring the advice of seven former CIA directors, (2) providing sensitive information to our enemies, and (3) giving our allies fresh cause to doubt America’s reliability. After releasing the memos, Mr. Holder launched a politically motivated investigation of several CIA interrogators, even though career Justice Department officials had already recommended against prosecuting them.
Last week, we again witnessed Mr. Holder’s willingness to put politics before justice, when he refused to appoint an independent special prosecutor to look into the unprecedented leaks of possibly classified operations. As Democratic and Republican Senators have made clear in a resounding voice, these leaks endanger our national security and the lives of the men and women sworn to protect it.
We know these leaks came from the Obama administration, and some may have even come from the Justice Department. Mr. Holder faces a clear conflict of interest. This is exactly the type of situation that calls for a special prosecutor.
Unfortunately, Mr. Holder has rejected that option and instead chosen Ronald Machen, the US Attorney for the District of Columbia, to lead an investigation. This decision offers yet another example of Holder’s poor judgment. Mr. Machen has donated thousands of dollars to President Obama’s political campaigns; he vetted vice presidential candidates for the Obama team in 2008; and he got his first job as a federal prosecutor from, you guessed it, Eric Holder.
In short, Mr. Machen’s inquiry will not seem truly independent. It is insulting for the attorney general to pretend otherwise. Once again he has shown his penchant for putting politics ahead of justice.
Americans deserve an Attorney General who will uphold basic standards of honesty, transparency, and accountability. They deserve an attorney general whose loyalty to the justice system will trump his loyalty to the White House. They deserve an attorney general who will treat Congress and the public with respect, not contempt. They deserve someone better than Mr. Holder.
Republican John Cornyn represents Texas in the United States Senate where he serves on the Judiciary Committee. He is a former state attorney general.