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Novelist Thomas Wolfe famously wrote: “You can’t go home again.” But Eric Holder has proven him wrong.
Holder, who was President Obama’s Attorney General until stepping down earlier this year, recently returned to his old home place – Covington & Burling. Where’s that? Well, it’s not actually a place, but a powerhouse Washington lobbying-and-corporate-lawyering outfit. It runs interference in Washington for such Wall Street clients as Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo – and it’s a place where Holder definitely feels at home.
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After serving as a deputy attorney general in the 1990s (where he demonstrated a kind and gentle approach to prosecuting corporate crime), Holder was invited in 2001 to leave his government job and join the corporate covey of Covington & Burling lawyers. There, he happily hauled water for big name corporations until tapped to re-enter the government in 2009 as AG.
The most striking thing about his six-year run as America’s top lawyer was his ever-so-delicate treatment of the Wall Street banksters who crashed our economy in 2008. Despite blatant cases of massive fraud and finagling, Holder failed to prosecute even one of the top Wall Streeters involved. Indeed, he kindly de-prioritized criminal prosecution of mortgage fraud and even publicly embraced the soft-on-corporate-crime notion that Wall Street banks are “Too big to fail” and “Too big to jail.”
It’s no surprise then that Holder is once again spinning through the revolving door of government service to rejoin his corporate family at Covington & Burling. In fact, in his years away, the firm kept a primo corner office empty for him, awaiting his return home.
In a way, he never really left! But now his paycheck for serving corporate interests will be many millions of dollars a year. Happy homecoming, Eric!
“After Years of Not Prosecuting Banks, Eric Holder Returns Home to Defend Them,” www.portside.org, July 6, 2015.