Under fire for leveling a racially charged attack at his critics, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has neither backed down nor revised his remarks, appearing instead to restate them.
In a front page New York Times story on Sunday, Holder alleged that some of his critics — a group he referred to as the “more extreme segment” — are motivated by racism. “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” Holder said of criticism he has received for the Fast and Furious scandal, among other things. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”
The comment drew instant and heated responses. Rep. Allen West, Republican of Florida, called Holder’s playing of the race card “reprehensible” and the “most insidious thing I ever heard.” Republican Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois also denounced Holder’s comments, saying he believes President Obama “orchestrated” them.
Now, in a statement to a left-wing blog, a Justice Department spokesperson says Holder has been misunderstood — but, pointedly, did not retract the attorney general’s claim about racism. “A simple reading of this comment shows that he was referring to how he is identified with the president given their close relationship and all they share in common, including their ideology,” read the statement.
The phrase “all they share in common” would include the fact that both Holder and Obama identify as African-American.
The spokesperson went on to explain that Holder has galvanized critics not because of his misdeeds or incompetence, but as a consequence of his liberal activism: “His critics rightly view the Attorney General as a progressive force and given our current political environment, there will be those who use any opportunity to score political points.”
For months Holder has faced a storm of criticism from Capitol Hill, much of which has grown from the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, a program overseen by Holder’s DOJ. Fast and Furious delivered thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers. At least 300 people in Mexico were murdered by Fast and Furious weapons, as was U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. The identities of the Mexican victims are unknown.
The scandal has spurred a growing list of public officials — including 60 congressmen, two senators, every major Republican presidential candidate and two sitting governors — to call for Holder’s resignation. Additionally, 81 members of the House of Representatives have co-sponsored a resolution for a vote of “no confidence” in Holder as attorney general.
When The Daily Caller asked for evidence to back up Holder’s claims of racism, the Justice Department did not provide any. The White House has remained silent on the issue.