Who would have thought that first lady Michelle Obama eats pizza? She will, at least when it's with the family of Attorney General Eric Holder.
President Barack Obama with Attorney General Eric during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 30, 2014. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
According to Politico, the first lady is a "not infrequent drop-in guest for Friday pizza night at Holder's house.” And that's just one reason why the attorney general has been able to hold onto his job even as advisers to President Barack Obama have pushed for his ouster in private, and members of Congress have demanded his resignation in public.
Another major reason is that Holder can speak on racial matters that Obama cannot from a political basis.
“He's a race man,” said Charles Ogletree, a Holder friend who taught Barack and Michelle Obama as Harvard Law School students. "He's gone farther and deeper into some issues of race than the White House would like, but I know he has the president's well-wishes. It's clear [Obama and Holder] believe in the same things.”
According to Politico, Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are the only cabinet members who regularly dine at the White House; Holder has also accompanied the Obamas on vacations to Martha's Vineyard.
Holder's tenure as attorney general has been enmeshed in controversies including the botched Operation Fast and Furious gun program, revelations about tapping journalists' phones and failing to prosecute certain alleged bad actors on Wall Street – managing to irk the right and the left.
“If it was coming out of the Justice Department it was bad news,” a former top Obama adviser told Politico.
Amid Holder's failed push to try admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a Manhattan court, Obama reportedly became frustrated at a White House meeting in late January 2010. In the meeting, Holder complained that the White House team failed to make a political case to back him up, to which Obama responded: “Eric, you didn’t handle this well. … To be fair, you didn’t handle the politics well.”
Then-top Obama advisers David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gibbs and Jim Messina all sought to restrict Holder's media appearances, according to Politico — but Holder has outlasted them all in the administration.
Obama and Holder first met in 2004; the latter served as an informal legal adviser to Obama's U.S. Senate office and joined his presidential campaign in 2007. Holder is also close to White House senior adviser and Obama friend Valerie Jarrett.
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