Attorney General Eric Holder is preparing to step down from his position as the head of the Department of Justice, a White House official confirmed.
“This afternoon, the President will announce the departure of Attorney General Eric Holder,” the official told Business Insider.
The official said Holder, the nation’s first black attorney general, will remain at the Justice Department until President Barack Obama appoints his successor and the person is confirmed by the US Senate. That process could stretch into early next year, depending on how quickly Obama appoints a new attorney general.
The news was first reported by NPR. The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the NPR report, Holder wants to leave his position soon before he feels “locked in” to stay for the rest of Obama’s tenure as president. Holder is one of the few remaining members from Obama’s original Cabinet. He is also already the fourth-longest serving attorney general in US history.
The White House touted his accomplishments ahead of the president’s announcement.
“After serving for nearly six years as the head of the Justice Department, Holder is the first African American to be Attorney General of the United States and will be the fourth longest person to hold the position,” the White House official said.
“Holder’s accomplishments have established a historic legacy of civil rights enforcement and restoring fairness to the criminal justice system. Holder revitalized the Department’s praised Civil Rights Division, protected the rights of the LGBT community, successfully prosecuted terrorists, and fought tirelessly for voting rights, to name a few.”
Holder’s tenure has marked by a contentious relationship with Congress. In June 2012, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to hold him in contempt of Congress, over a dispute involving the probe into the flawed “Fast and Furious” gunrunning operation. He was the first attorney general to be held in contempt.
More recently, Holder has taken a proactive approach in leading the federal government’s civil-rights investigation into the police department of Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by white police officer Darren Wilson.
This post has been updated with new information.
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