Citing two legal sources close to the presidential transition team, reporter Michael Isikoff writes that President-elect Barack Obama has chosen the 57-year old Covington & Burling partner to become the country's first African-American AG.
It's not a done deal. Holder still has to be formally vetted, but according to Newsweek, Obama offered Holder the job and Holder accepted. Obama's transition team has now apparently shifted its attention to who will serve as deputy to Holder. Among the names Newsweek hears: Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, who served in the Clinton White House in the counsel's office, and David Ogden, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, who served as chief of staff to Attorney General Janet Reno.
Holder, despite serving as Deputy Attorney General under President Bill Clinton, was an early Obama supporter. The two met in 2004 at a dinner party hosted by Ann Walker Marchant, a niece of Washington, D.C. insider -- and Clinton pal -- Vernon Jordan. Holder was immediately impressed.
"I think we share a world view," he told The American Lawyer over the summer. "[Obama] is not defined by his race. He's proud of it, cognizant of the pernicious effect that race has had in our history but not defined by it."
During the campaign, Holder served in a variety of capacities, providing strategic advice, acting as a surrogate and helping out with fundraising. He also led Obama's vice presidential search committee with Caroline Kennedy.
If Obama does nominate Holder, the controversial pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich will no doubt come up at the confirmation hearings. Holder signed off on the pardon on Clinton's last day in office without getting input from the line prosecutors in the case.
"It is without doubt the darkest moment in Eric Holder's professional life," Holder's former chief of staff Kevin Olsen told The American Lawyer.
And if Holder ultimately is confirmed, he'll have to spend time away from his wife and young children, which had been a strain on his family when he served as deputy AG. During the campaign Holder was repeatedly asked about the possibility of being offered the job.
"I got to to tell you, that's going to be up to the president," he told one radio talk show host. "And I will not be the president. I will also tell you that I'm married to a wonderful woman who is a doctor. Her name is Sharon Malone. And Sharon Malone tells me that I'm not going anywhere except back to my law firm. So I think President Obama is going to have to talk to Sharon, and she's a pretty formidable person."
But deep down, Holder may have just been acting cagey. Over the summer, The American Lawyer called Malone and asked her point blank if she would allow Obama to recruit her husband. "Of course," she said.
This article first appeared on The Am Law Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.