The No. 2 official at the Justice Department plans to leave his position.

A Justice Department official says Deputy Attorney General James Cole told staff Thursday of his plans to resign after nearly four years. The official says that Cole will remain in the position to help the transition of a new deputy attorney general.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the department's formal announcement.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced several weeks ago that he will leave the department once a successor is confirmed.

As Holder's deputy, Cole was involved in prison re-entry programs and a new clemency initiative for federal inmates.

He also was involved in the decision to secretly subpoena telephone records of Associated Press reporters and editors in a national security leak investigation.