Report: Holder will get attorney general nod

Newsweek reports that Barack Obama has offered Eric Holder, a former deputy attorney general, the job; Holder would be the first African American to lead the DOJ.

Published November 18, 2008 8:15PM (EST)

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reports that Barack Obama has offered Eric Holder the job of attorney general in his administration, and that Holder has accepted.

Holder, who joined Caroline Kennedy in running Obama's vice-presidential search team, was a deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration. If he is indeed nominated and then confirmed by the Senate, he'd be the first African-American in the position.

"Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, still has to undergo a formal 'vetting' review by the Obama transition team before the selection is final and is publicly announced," Isikoff says. "But in the discussions over the past few days, Obama offered Holder the job and he accepted... The announcement is not likely until after Obama announces his choices to lead the Treasury and State departments."

One possible hurdle, noted by Isikoff, is that Holder was involved in the controversial pardon of Marc Rich. Isikoff says that Holder "himself had reservations about going through a confirmation process that was likely to revive questions about his role in signing off" on the pardon, but that "after reviewing the evidence in the case, and checking with staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Obama aides and Holder both decided the issue was highly unlikely to prove an obstacle to his confirmation."

Isikoff based his report on "two legal sources close to the presidential transition."

Update: NBC says it has sources who are confirming Isikoff's story, but other outlets aren't quite ready to go that far. The Washington Post's Carrie Johnson and Chris Cillizza report that Holder "is almost certain to be selected as U.S. attorney general." The New York Times' Eric Lichtblau and David Johnston write, "Obama’s transition team has given strong signals to Eric H. Holder Jr., a senior official in the Clinton administration, that he will be chosen as attorney general, but no final decision has been made." And the Associated Press calls Holder Obama's "top choice" and says, "aides have gone so far as to ask senators whether he would be confirmed... [but] the decision has not been finalized."

As for the Obama camp itself, spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter says, "No one has been offered the job as Attorney General."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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