Former Attorney General Eric Holder accused one of his Trump-era successors, William Barr, of “going beyond politicizing” the Justice Department, saying that the current attorney general had instead “weaponized” the department in an unprecedented way.
“The way he has talked about everything from voting to social issues, he has clearly put the Justice Department on the side of this president,” Holder told POLITICO Playbook authors Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman in an interview Tuesday.
Holder, who served as the first attorney general in the Obama administration, also pointed to Barr’s intervention in cases involving Trump’s allies, and called the attorney general an “integral part of the president’s reelection effort.”
“People gotta understand this is inconsistent with the way attorneys general and the department have acted in the past — and that means Republican as well as Democratic Justice Departments,” he argued.
Since leaving office, and mulling a run for president this year before eventually deciding against it, Holder chairs the Obama-aligned National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a group aimed at fighting gerrymandering ahead of national redistricting efforts next year.
The former attorney general blamed the Trump administration and Republican Party for “unprecedented” obstacles to expanding voting rights, including attacks on voting by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic, and explaining that “we don’t have the Justice Department as allies in this effort in the way that you might expect.”
“The Trump administration has made the determination and Republican Party more generally has made the determination that they are gonna do all that they can to make it as difficult as possible to cast a ballot, whether it is in person or by the use of the mail,” Holder asserted, adding: “It seems to me that they are afraid of the very people they say they want to lead.”
While he noted that the NRDC is coordinating with Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign to ensure voters’ access to the polls, Holder warned that November’s election will not be a breeze by any means.
“The reality is this is going to be difficult, we have to face that,” he said, previewing legal fights that could potentially decide the election.
Still, he added, “it doesn’t have to be this way forever.”
“If we are successful at the state and local level, which is one of the things that I am working on, this could be the last time that we have such a difficult election. But this one’s gonna be hard, but it is not one that we cannot overcome,” he said.