Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has agreed to serve at the helm of the U.S. Justice Department as President Barack Obama prepares to begin his second term, the White House said today.
Holder said publicly in recent months that he was mulling the decision whether to remain at Main Justice, where he has led the department since his confirmation as attorney general in February 2009. Holder then became the country's first black attorney general.
Holder, who joined DOJ from Covington & Burling but whose ties to the department go back many years, said in December one thing would be certain if he decided to stay: leaving the post at some point before the end of Obama's second term. The White House didn't indicate whether Holder has a timeline.
"I've got work that I still want to do," Holder said in remarks last month in Boston. But, he said he would not be the "Janet Reno of the Justice Department." Reno served two terms as attorney general under President Bill Clinton.
In November, Holder told students at the University of Baltimore School of Law that he didn't want to be the "Cal Ripken" of DOJ. "I'd like to see him do eight years as attorney general," Holder said about Ripken, a former shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles who holds the record for playing in the most consecutive baseball games.
Holder's got big issues on his plate in the coming months. In particular, Holder will play a key role in the Obama administration's gun control measures.
The attorney general today participated in a discussion at the White House with gun-safety groups and victims of gun violence. Holder is among top officials serving on the administration's task force, assembled to address gun violence after the shooting in Connecticut in December.
Holder's deputy, James Cole, hasn't given any indication that he wants to leave the department right now. Tony West has been serving as the acting associate attorney general ever since Thomas Perrelli left the department. Obama last year nominated West for the full-time position. (Perrelli returned to Jenner & Block.)
The White House also said today that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki are also staying on for the second term.