Eric Holder, a former No. 2 Justice Department official, has been told that he can become the nation’s first African-American attorney general, McClatchy Newspapers report. While President-elect Barack Obama hasn’t formally tapped Holder, one person with direct knowledge said “it’s his if he wants it.” Holder would be faced with divisive legal controversies, including the Bush administration policies on torture, electronic eavesdropping, and the imprisonment of terror suspects without charges, trials or the right to challenge their detention. Holder’s wife, Dr. Sharon Malone, an obstetrician/gynecologist, has voiced reservations about his returning to public service. Holder has said that his wife “was almost a single parent” while he was in government in the 1990s, and that as far as his returning, “That ain’t gonna happen.” The couple has three children.
A friend of Holder said: “How can you say ‘no’ to being the first African-American attorney general of the United States?” Word of the likely nomination brought a strong endorsement from Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Leahy said Holder, 57, “would make an outstanding nominee, and should have the support of senators from both sides of the aisle if President-elect Obama were to choose him for this critical position.”