Holder: Obama respected ‘wall’ between White House, Justice

February 8, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that former President Barack Obama, though a personal friend, understood while in office that “there has to be a wall between the White House and the Justice Department.”

Holder said that he wished President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly blasted the Justice Department and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, would treat the department with the same respect and independence as Obama did in office.

“There were things that I did while I was attorney general, decisions that I had to make, that were not communicated to him,” Holder said at a breakfast meeting with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “My guess is there were more than a couple that he probably did not agree with, and yet I never heard from him anything either privately — and certainly not publicly — that was critical of any decision that I made.”

Holder, who served as attorney general between 2009 and 2015, said that he did not think the drumbeat of criticism of the FBI and Justice Department would affect an ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

But, he said, it could have other negative long-term consequences on the public perception of the FBI and Justice Department.

“A case will be tried in Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, where a credibility determination has to be made between an FBI agent saying one thing and a defendant, a witness, saying something else,” Holder said. “And having raised questions in the way that the president has about the way in which the FBI goes about doing its job ... will raise doubts in the minds of people as they listen to that FBI agent and what she says in a way that never existed before.”

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