Friday, February 27, 2015

Mike Allen interviews Attorney General Eric Holder

In his final weeks in office, Attorney General Holder plans to push for an easier standard of proof for civil-rights offenses, saying in an exit interview with POLITICO that such a change would make the federal government "a better backstop" against discrimination in cases like Ferguson and Trayvon Martin. "I think some serious consideration needs to be given to the standard of proof that has to be met before federal involvement is appropriate, and that's something that I am going to be talking about before I leave office," Holder, 64, said.

The attorney general's comments appeared to be aimed partly at preparing the country for the likelihood that no federal charges would be brought in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer. Holder said the inquiry will be completed before he leaves office, expected around the second week of March. In a lengthy discussion, Holder said some of his own struggles with Republicans in Congress were driven partly by race. "There have been times when I thought that's at least a piece of it," Holder said. "I think that the primary motivator has probably been political in nature ... [but] you can't let it deflect you from ... your eyes on the prize."

Asked what book he'd recommend to a young person coming to Washington, like his 32-year-old aide Kevin Lewis, who started at the White House at age 26, Holder said: "I say this not to every African-American of his age, but for every American, that you read 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X' to see the transition that that man went through, from petty criminal to a person who was severely and negatively afflicted by race, to somebody who ultimately saw the humanity in all of us," Holder said. "And that would be a book I would recommend to everybody."

Holder also told us he's writing a letter to Trayvon Martin's parents: "[O]ne of the things it's certainly going to talk about is my admiration for the way in which they have conducted themselves." And he said the country is ready for Hillary.

Story Transcript ... Video: Touring the A.G.'s office - messy or neat desk?

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