Presidential aides are privately admitting to a growing frustration inside the White House with Attorney General Eric Holder’s political ineptness in the press leak investigations and are hoping the embattled appointee will resign from office, The New York Times reports.
“The White House is apoplectic about him, and has been for a long time,” said an anonymous Democrat source, identified only as a former government employee who acknowledged the White House staffers in question are his friends.
President Barack Obama’s advisers are frustrated with Holder’s inability to foresee problems arising from his approval of a subpoena naming a Fox News reporter as a coconspirator in an espionage investigation. Now Congress is looking at whether Holder lied under oath when he testified last month that he knew nothing about the incident.
Additionally, Holder has become a lightening rod for criticism for pulling the phone records of 100 Associated Press reporters in another polarizing investigation.
“How hard would it be to anticipate that the AP would be unhappy?” the former official said. “And then they haven’t defended their position.”
The New York Times article highlighted a rare glimpse of the interworking of the White House social circle, stating that Holder’s “saving grace through years of controversies has been the friendship of two women close to Mr. Obama” – First Lady Michelle Obama, who is good friends with Holder’s wife, and Valerie Jarrett, the president’s senior adviser.
In addition to the press leak scandals, Holder has come under attack for his agency’s participation in the botched gun-trafficking investigation “Fast and Furious,” for which Holder was found in contempt of Congress.
And, in 2009, Holder made a contentious decision to prosecute September 11 terrorists in a Manhattan civilian court, but his decision was eventually reversed.
Bob Woodward of the Washington Post brought up the New York Times story during a press roundtable discussion on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” and said both Holder and Obama need to explain this and other unfolding scandals to the American people
“It’s all very troubling, and you lump all these things, IRS and Benghazi together, and what you’ve got is a feeling that no one’s coming clean, we aren’t getting straight talk,” Woodward said.
“This goes to President Obama, he’s got to find a way to unravel this. We live in an age of distrust, I think it’s more severe now, and he has to find some way to clean this up and say this is what happened,” Woodward said.
David Ignatius, a columnist and associate editor at the Washington Post, said the larger question is whether Holder has done a good job as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.
“In terms of the critique of Eric Holder, the problem is Eric Holder has been a weak attorney general,” Ignacious said.
Friends of Holder told the Times that the attorney general does not want to leave his job working for the government because he does not like working in the private sector, but there are rumblings he might resign as early as this fall.
William M. Daley, Obama’s former chief of staff, spoke on the record to the Times and said that as long as Holder runs the department in a competent manner and remains a friend of Obama, he would not be drummed out of the administration for political reasons.
“Whoever Barack Obama puts in there, these people will try to drumbeat him out of there, no matter what,” Daley said.
Tom Brokaw, the former NBC “Nightly News” anchor, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the Times article exemplifies the typical Washington two-step – being praised on the record, “but at the same time there’s another part of that two-step that is going on in which people are saying it would be better if he left, it would be better for the president to get this cleaned up.”
Brokaw there is a political double standard in play with regards to how the Obama administration scandals are playing.
“From a political point of view, one of the ways that you can measure the impact of all of this and the fairness of it, is think if this had happened in the Bush administration with John Ashcroft as the attorney general. You know full well that the Democrats and the left would be going very hard after them,” Brokaw said.