WASHINGTON - Incoming U.S. President Barack Obama has tapped longtime lawyer Eric Holder to be attorney general, who, if confirmed would become the first African-American to hold the post, American media reported.
Holder, who served as deputy attorney general under former president Bill Clinton, has accepted Obama's invitation to head the Justice Department, Newsweek magazine said on Tuesday, citing legal sources close to the presidential transition.
Obama's transition team did not comment on the report, which was later confirmed by NBC news.
"Obama offered Holder the job and he accepted," Newsweek said, adding that "the announcement is not likely until after Obama announces his choices to lead the Treasury and State departments." Holder faces Senate confirmation hearings in order to officially take on the post, which would put him at the head of the Justice Department as the U.S. government's chief law enforcement officer. "He was on the short list from the beginning and obvious choice," Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff told CNN.
"Also, a symbolic choice. This will be the first, he will be the first African-American to head the Justice Department, and that's a pretty big deal in its own right."
Holder 57, is a partner in the Washington law firm of Covington and Burling. He has served as a superior court judge in the nation's capital and was named the capital's U.S. attorney by former President Clinton before taking the post of deputy attorney general under Janet Reno in 1997. Holder was co-chief along with Caroline Kennedy of Obama's vice-presidential selection process and, like Obama, is an alumnus of Columbia University in New York.
Isikoff, who broke the story, said that the Obama team likely chose Holder because of his experience in the Justice Department and viewed him as a stark contrast to those who served under President George W. Bush. Holder "lives and breathes the culture of the Justice Department. He served for years in the public integrity section of the Justice Department, and prosecuting political corruption, Republicans and Democrats," said Isikoff. "One of the big criticisms of the Bush team both in the first term and the second term is that ... they weren't a part of the Justice Department, and they didn't quite understand the very unique culture at Justice. Eric Holder does."