Source: Holder accepts AG job

November 19, 2008 6:42:18 AM PST
A source close to the process of selecting Barack Obama's attorney general says the president-elect has "informally" offered the post to Washington lawyer Eric Holder, who has accepted. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because no announcement has been made. He said that Holder has "informally" accepted the offer, pending completion of the vetting process.

Holder would be the nation's first black attorney general. He could run into some potential political problems over a 2001 pardon of a wealthy commodities dealer by President Bill Clinton, whose administration Holder served as deputy attorney general. The trader, Marc Rich, had spent years running from tax charges.

Holder, 57, also a former judge and U.S. attorney in Washington, is widely respected in legal circles and among Justice Department career lawyers. He has been on Obama's short list to be attorney general since before the election, and already has had private conversations about how he would run the department.

One of his top priorities, according to a person familiar with his thinking, is to rebuild the department's reputation after its fiercely independent image was tarnished by charges of political meddling by the White House during the Bush administration.

For that reason, Holder has been reluctant to lobby for the attorney general's post for fear the Rich pardon would invite a bloody nomination process and further strain the department's credibility, this person said.

Holder has been one of Obama's most trusted advisers. He was a member of the team that helped select Sen. Joe Biden as Obama's running mate. The two have known each other only briefly, however, after meeting at a dinner party four years ago.

Holder has other deep ties to Obama's team. Holder's wife, an obstetrician, delivered incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's daughter.