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Tell Congress: Subpoena Eric Holder's communication with his corporate law firm

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Petition to the leadership of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees:

"Subpoena all communications between former Attorney General Eric Holder and Covington & Burling while he served at Department of Justice and investigate any potential conflict of interest."

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    Tell Congress: Subpoena Eric Holder's communication with his corporate law firm

    It’s the revolving door at its most despicable. Eric Holder spent six years as attorney general, and failed to prosecute banks for their criminal wrongdoing or put any bank executives behind bars. Now, he’s set to rejoin his old white-collar criminal defense firm, making millions each year helping Wall Street bankers avoid criminal consequences.1

    Worse, it was just reported that the firm, Covington & Burling, has kept an empty 11th floor corner office for Holder awaiting his return. Combined with Holder’s purchase a year ago of a $1.5 million condo just 300 feet from his new office raises serious questions about how long Holder knew he would be getting a major payday from his old firm even while it continued to represent companies under Department of Justice investigation. If the firm and Holder agreed on a future job offer, that alone could violate criminal laws.2

    The leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees owe it to the American people to explore all communications between a sitting attorney general and a firm that appears to have been holding a job for him while its clients negotiated legal settlements with the Justice Department.

    Tell Congress: Subpoena former Attorney General Eric Holder's communications with his corporate law firm while serving as head of the Department of Justice.

    Wall Street banks committed fraud that crashed the economy and then illegally foreclosed on countless homeowners, but still not a single big bank executive has gone to jail. In many cases, the Justice Department under Eric Holder’s leadership refused even to prosecute banks for criminal acts, despite whistleblowers coming forward to guide investigators to the key evidence. In the rare cases where prosecutors brought charges, they quickly agreed on settlements that allowed banks to get off the hook with empty promises, token fines, no admissions of wrongdoing, no one losing their job, and no one going to jail.

    We knew that Eric Holder’s long career in white-collar criminal defense biased him against confronting mega banks, and many expected him to return to Covington & Burling after he left office. But only recently did it come to light that the firm had reserved a space for him in its new building well before he had announced his attention to resign. Not only that, last year Holder and his wife purchased a $1.5 million just 300 feet from the firm’s downtown office, a move that many interpret to suggest he knew he would return. The firm’s chairman even admitted in an interview that Holder’s return was “a project I've been working on since I started as chair [in 2008].”3

    Did Covington & Burling make concrete promises to Holder while he was still serving as attorney general? Holding a corner office alone could constitute a violation of U.S. criminal code prohibiting “an arrangement concerning prospective employment.”4

    Tell Congress: Subpoena former Attorney General Eric Holder's communications with his corporate law firm while serving as head of the Department of Justice.

    Even if there is no smoking gun of criminal behavior, the mere fact that Holder will now make millions getting rich criminals off the hook is a revolting example of the revolving door. Covington & Burling represents JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citibank, and nearly every other Wall Street titan. Disturbingly, the firm’s marketing materials include glowing references to Lanny Breuer. In Breuer's four years as head of the Justice Department's criminal division under Holder, he sent not a single banker to jail for crimes committed during the financial meltdown. In 2013, Breuer left the DOJ for a job at Covington where his salary was reported to start at around $4 million a year. The firm is notable for helping big banks find the legal justification for much of the rampant securitization that led to the financial crash and ensuing foreclosure fraud.5

    Covington & Burling has already brought on six of Holder’s colleagues from the Justice Department, including the former head of the criminal division who refused to investigate banks, and the firm reportedly views Holder as a “rainmaker” who will bring in new business. Holder himself recently said his role model is a former attorney general who used his position to became the first lawyer to charge $1,000 an hour.6 Even if Holder never shows up in court to represent his clients, he and Covington & Burling clearly plan to trade on expertise and insider connections to defend illegal behavior and rake in big bucks.7

    Holder’s new job is already a national disgrace. The least the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees can do is make sure it isn’t criminal, as well.

    Tell Congress: Subpoena former Attorney General Eric Holder's communications with his corporate law firm while serving as head of the Department of Justice.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    1. Katelyn Polantz, “Holder's Return to Covington Was Six Years in the Making,” National Law Journal, July 5, 2015.
    2. 18 U.S. Code § 208 - Acts affecting a personal financial interest,” Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School, retrieved July 7, 2015.
    3. Polantz, “Holder's Return to Covington Was Six Years in the Making.”
    4. 18 U.S. Code § 208 - Acts affecting a personal financial interest.”
    5. David Dayen, “Why Eric Holder’s new job is an insult to the American public,” Salon.com, July 7, 2015; Dayen, "Clueless law firm’s out-of-touch boasting: “Got off with just a $5 million fine!”," Salon.com, March 5, 2014; Ben Protess, "Once More Through the Revolving Door for Justice’s Breuer," The New York Times, March 28, 2013.
    6. Polantz, “Holder's Return to Covington Was Six Years in the Making.”
    7. Dayen, “Why Eric Holder’s new job is an insult to the American public.”