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Holder Considered Quitting as Attorney General, Book Says

Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general. Photographer: Steve Pope/Bloomberg
Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general. Photographer: Steve Pope/Bloomberg

June 5 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder considered resigning in 2010 after facing criticism for his decision to prosecute terror suspects in civilian court, according to a book being published today.

Holder “sank into a depression” following the death of his mother and a public backlash against his plans to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, in federal court in New York, according to “Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency” by Daniel Klaidman, a reporter for Newsweek and the Daily Beast (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 304 pages, $28).

The Obama administration subsequently abandoned plans to try Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators in civilian court, and Holder announced in April 2011 that their cases would instead be sent to a military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“Holder’s sense of isolation within the administration had turned his job into a grind,” according to the book. “He woke up on many mornings with a knot in his stomach, not sure if he’d be able to make it through the day.”

Holder enjoyed a close personal relationship with President Barack Obama even as he clashed with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and White House political adviser David Axelrod over his handling of terror detainees and speeches early in the administration on gun control and race relations, according to the book.

Holder ultimately decided to stay at the urging of presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, who told him that if he quit, “this will not be good for you and it will not be good for your friend, the president,” according to the book.

Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Seth Stern in Washington at sstern14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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