Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Eric Holder Cashes In

Eric Holder as Attorney General
When I read Michael Krieger's blog posted yesterday evening on about former Attorney General Eric Holder taking a lucrative position with his old law firm Covington & Burling, I can't say I was really surprised.

Given the current state of the corporate / 1% oligarchy that rules America and our political system, high-level officials and politicians stepping from government right into the corporate arena might as well be called the Washington Two-Step - but I was a little disappointed to hear about Holder.

After President Obama tapped him to serve as Attorney General of the United States back in 2008, like many I thought it seemed like a solid cabinet pick.

Holder came from a good family and was a gifted scholar at an early age who went on to graduate from Columbia Law School and later became a Superior Court Judge before being appointed Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno during Bill Clinton's administration - he seemed to have the right stuff.   

As the first African-American AG in American history, his appointment had an air of lofty historic significance and looking back, I think it was easy for liberal-leaning centrists like me to "root" for him.

In contrast to George W. Bush's AG Alberto Gonzales, who famously defended the use of torture, Holder seemed proactive and unafraid to use the authority of his office.

For a lot of Americans it was refreshing to see the head of the Department of Justice speak out eloquently and forcefully on issues like mass incarceration, unfair sentencing laws, disparities in sentencing laws for crack and cocaine, voting rights and systematic racial bias in American law enforcement; Holder also helped bring the weight of the federal government into the high-profile investigations of police killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and others.

But as progressive journalists like Matt Taibbi began pointing out as far back as August 15, 2012 in detailed exposes on the epic failure of the US government to indict even a single executive from the financial sector for the economic meltdown brought on by the mortgage securities crisis created by the nations largest banks, Holder seemed to distinguish himself as much for what he wasn't doing, as for what he was saying.

You'd think Holder would support an honest whistle blower with a first-hand insider's view into intentional and massive corporate malfeasance by JP Morgan - Chase right?

Not so much according to this disturbing article, 'The $9 Billion Witness', that appeared in the November 6, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone.

As Michael Krieger reported in his blog yesterday, Holder's return to the law firm of Covington & Burling raises some ethically troubling red flags given that "The Covington & Burling client list has included four of the largest banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo."

When Republicans were attempting to crucify and vilify Holder (oh let me count the ways), I used my blog to defend him more than once; after all the GOP's undisguised hatred of Holder was clearly linked to his racial identity.

But looking back, considering how intelligent Holder is, I can't help but wonder if his vocal stances on mass incarceration or police bias were more smoke-screen than substance - was it merely 'Bread & Circuses' intended to distract the masses from the fact that the head of the Justice Department had absolutely no intention of using the power of his office to hold the big banks or financial firms accountable for wrecking the US economy?

Was his six year term as Attorney General intended to make sure that didn't happen?

According to an article posted on Monday in 'The Intercept' by Lee Fang, Holder worked for Covington & Burling right up until he was appointed Attorney General. Is his new seven or eight figure salary with Covington & Burling (and his corner office in their new 11-story headquarters in New York) a reward for his non-service?

Say it ain't so. 

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