*Attorney General Eric Holder’s out-of-the-blue announcement that he intends to step down was reportedly initiated by his wife’s concerns about his health, Politico reports.
Holder was rushed to the hospital in February after feeling faint and having a shortness of breath. Doctors gave him the okay to return to work, but soon after the incident, rumors began swirling that Holder could leave the Obama administration before the end of the year.
Politico Magazine reported Thursday that “under pressure” from his wife Sharon Malone, an obstetrician and gynecologist, Holder decided to make the jump now before Republicans potentially take over the Senate in the Midterm elections and make it too difficult for the president to replace him.
“It was a quit-now or never-quit moment,” a former administration official told Politico. “You didn’t want confirmation hearings in 2015 if the Republicans control the Senate. So if he didn’t do it now, there was no way he could ever do it.”
Sources who claim to be familiar with Holder’s thinking told the Washington Post that he thought about leaving earlier in tenure, at the height of the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal in 2012 and again last summer, but he didn’t want to exit on bad note.
President Obama lauded Holder’s work to advance civil rights at an emotional press conference on Thursday afternoon. [Scroll down to watch in its entirety.]
“Under his watch,” Obama said, “the department has brought a record number of prosecutions for human trafficking, and for hate crimes – because no one in America should be afraid to walk down the street because of the color of their skin, the love in their heart, the faith they practice, or the disabilities that they live with.”
In a one-on-one with the Daily Beast today Holder said he’s “not quite done thinking” about what his next move is, he suggested he will continue to work on criminal-justice reform, something Holder designated as his “signature achievement” as head of the Justice Department.
“I’d like to continue being involved with issues that animated my time as attorney general—criminal-justice reform and civil rights especially,” Holder told the website. “I don’t just want to give speeches; I’d like to involve myself in this work in a systematic way.”
Watch President Obama’s press conference with Attorney General Eric Holder below: