Former Attorney General Eric Holder said he’s “disturbed” by the silence of current Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the wake of President Donald Trump’s attacks on the Justice Department and the FBI.
Holder made the comment on Wednesday following Trump’s renewed criticism of what he called the “Deep State Justice Dept.”
In a tweet, the president urged the department to take action against “Comey and others,” a reference to former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the investigation into whether Trump’s presidential campaign had colluded with Russian officials until Trump fired him in May. The president also said that a top aide to 2016 election rival Hillary Clinton should be jailed.
Holder, who served under then-President Barack Obama, called Trump’s repeated slams of the Justice Department “unfounded.”
“When you try to delegitimize a probe, when you try to delegitimize the FBI, that has long-term collateral consequences,” Holder told HuffPost after attending Wednesday’s swearing-in of Alabama’s newest senator, Doug Jones. “I’m disturbed by that, and I’m equally disturbed I’ve seen nothing from this attorney general to defend the people of the Justice Department who are patriots and who do their jobs without any regard to partisan politics. They need to be defended.”
Trump has often criticized Sessions for recusing himself from supervising the Russia probe. Last week, the president claimed in a New York Times interview that he has the “absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”
Holder, meanwhile, has used his platform on Twitter to go after Sessions, who has rolled back several Holder-era initiatives, like his push to reform drug sentencing and his efforts to strengthen the department’s civil rights division. The former attorney general has also criticized GOP lawmakers for pushing voter ID laws and other measures that make it more difficult to vote, an effort he has called “shameful.”
Asked Wednesday whether the rule of law in America was under siege in the Trump era, Holder agreed.
“Our institutions are strong,” he said. “Our founding documents are strong. But I think we’re seeing a stress test the likes of which we haven’t seen since Watergate.”