Jun 06 2013

AL.com: Shelby Hits Holder on Integrity

Sen. Richard Shelby to Eric Holder: You've Tarnished DOJ's Integrity

By George Talbot, AL.com

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, challenged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today during a hearing on Capitol Hill, saying recent scandals involving the Department of Justice have “tarnished the integrity” of his office.

Shelby confronted Holder during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing scheduled to discuss the Justice Department’s budget request for fiscal 2014.

“I would be remiss if I did not mention the controversy that has engulfed the department and the Attorney General in recent weeks,” Shelby said in a brief opening statement. “These issues have overwhelmed the department and cast a shadow of doubt upon the Attorney General.”

Later in the hearing, Shelby pressed Holder over whether he could effectively lead the department.

Holder is grappling with a controversy over the department’s monitoring of journalists at the Associated Press and Fox News.

The department also came under fire this week following reports that the Obama administration used a secret court order to collect information on all cell phone calls made on the Verizon network.

"The controversy that has embroiled the department has called into question its ability to fairly administer the law and justice," Shelby said. "Further, the questionable actions of this Attorney General have tarnished the integrity, impartiality and efficacy of the position."

Holder brushed aside questions about when he might step down, suggesting he will do so when he’s too tired to continue or when he’s accomplished his goals.

“The tipping point might be fatigue; you get to a point where you just get tired,” Holder said, according to the Washington Post. “But beyond that … there are certain goals that I set for myself and this department that I set in 2009. When I get to the point where I’ve accomplished all the goals I’ve set, I will sit down and talk with the president about a transition to a new attorney general.”

Holder, who has served as AG since 2009, also defended his leadership of the department.

“In spite of the recent controversies that you’ve mentioned, the department is fully engaged in the work of protecting the American people,” Holder said, “and I am fully engaged in that regard.”

Shelby stopped short of calling for Holder's resignation, saying that he hoped the attorney general “will move swiftly…to put this controversy to rest in a full and open manner so that the department can get back to focusing on the issues central to its mission.”