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Attorney General Eric Holder bade farewell to Justice Department colleagues on Friday, marking an end to his at times rocky six-year tenure as the first African-American to hold the nation’s top law enforcement post.
In a tribute video that featured President Barack Obama, members of Congress and Holder's wife, Sharon Malone, Holder said he has an “emotional attachment” to the department and recapped efforts to safeguard civil rights and make changes to the criminal justice system.
His successor, Loretta Lynch, a federal prosecutor, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday and will be sworn in Monday at the White House.
Holder is a former judge and U.S. attorney who took the job in 2009. He is one of the longest-serving attorneys general in U.S. history and one of the longest-serving members of the Obama administration.
He’s also a trusted ally of the president — a role that Republicans often criticized as being a “wingman” too close to the White House to act objectively. His tense relationship with congressional Republicans often led to heated exchanges during hearings and to calls for his resignation.
Civil rights groups see Holder as a tough defender of human rights.
“Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has been a bold champion for racial justice and equality at DOJ for over 26 years and Ms. Lynch is more than capable of carrying both of their outstanding legacies forward,” the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law wrote in a statement Thursday after Lynch’s confirmation vote.