Holder Defends DOJ Following Stevens Dismissal
In his first television interview since taking office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. defended the integrity and mission of the Justice Department today and said it will continue to prosecute political figures when necessary, despite a federal judge's dismissal of the conviction of former senator Ted Stevens.
"History has shown that the people who work in this department are good lawyers, they're fair lawyers, they follow the rules," Holder told CBS's Katie Couric in an interview, portions of which aired tonight (see above). "We're not going to be timid. People should not take from this episode any indication that we're going to be timid in enforcing the laws going after those that break our laws, especially those who are entrusted with great political positions. That is going to be a focus of this department under me. We're going to go after white collar criminals."
When asked by Couric how he will restore the department's integrity, Holder said, "You lead by example, and what I think I did in the Stevens case, at great pain, was to tell the world this is not the way in which this Justice Department will conduct itself."
The attorney general said he's "obviously troubled by the findings and the statements" made by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in regards to the Stevens case. The judge stated today that he had "never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct in this case" and urged Holder to better train prosecutors about the requirements for turning over evidence to defense lawyers that may help their case, according to The Post's Del Quentin Wilber.
Holder also defended himself against suggestions he had not acted quickly enough on the Stevens controversy: "I don't think anyone can say that, given the fact that in the limited time attorney general I looked at the case, decided that mistakes had been made and made determination that the case had to be dismissed looking at the totality of the circumstances. I've only been attorney general for a little over eight weeks now, I don't think anybody can say that this department has dragged its feet."
| April 7, 2009; 8:29 PM ET
Categories: Agencies and Departments, Video Report
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