Only two years ago, House Republicans voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Recently, Senate Republicans have trashed the former head of his civil rights division, Thomas Perez, and blocked his current choice to run the division, Debo Adegbile.
But now the attorney general is making surprising friends with his efforts to cut the nation’s prison population. Among his unlikely allies are congressional Republicans and even Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
“They did what they did and I disagree with it,” Holder said in an interview last week, still stung by the contempt citation. “But at the end of the day… from my perspective, my legacy… as people try to decide ‘What kind of attorney general was this guy?’ I think they will focus more on what it is we did during my time, as opposed to fights I had with Congress.”
“In the years, I think, before I came to the attorney general’s office the department lost its way,” he said.
…“The justice system is part of the larger society and to the extent there are racial issues we are still grappling with, it is not a shock that you are going to see them in the justice system… [There is] a whole range of ways the justice system, if it is run properly, can make this country the country it wants to be.”
“If you want to call me an activist attorney general, I will proudly accept that label,” he said. “Any attorney general who is not an activist is not doing his or her job. The responsibility of the attorney general is to change things [and] bring us closer to the ideals expressed in our founding documents.”