Eric Holder, Part 4


Shortly after the black Sanford, Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in an altercation with a “white Hispanic” man named George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012, the Community Relations Service (CRS), a small office within Holder’s DOJ, sent taxpayer-funded political agitators to Sanford, where they helped organize protest demonstrations and convey the false impression that the killer had racial motives. At one of those rallies — the March 31, 2012 “March for Trayvon Martin” — the featured speaker, Al Sharpton, advocated for Zimmerman’s prosecution. According to journalist Matthew Vadum:

“DOJ documents provided to Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act show that in the weeks before Zimmerman was charged, CRS expended thousands of dollars to help organize marches in which participants exacerbated racial tensions and loudly demanded that he be prosecuted.

“According to the documentation, CRS employees were involved in ‘marches, demonstrations, and rallies related to the shooting and death of an African-American teen by a neighborhood watch captain’; providing ‘support for protest deployment in Florida’; rendering ‘technical assistance to the City of Sanford, event organizers, and law enforcement agencies for the march and rally on March 31 [2012]’; and providing ‘technical assistance, conciliation, and onsite mediation during demonstrations planned in Sanford.’

“In April [2012], CRS ‘set up a meeting between the local NAACP and elected officials that led to the temporary resignation of police chief Bill Lee, according to Turner Clayton, Seminole County chapter president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,’ the document dump revealed.”

When Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in a July 2013 trial, Holder saw the verdict as unjust. In a July 15 speech to a Delta Sigma Theta convention in Washington, he made the following remarks:

“We are … mindful of the pain felt by our nation surrounding the tragic, unnecessary shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida last year — and the state trial that reached its conclusion over the weekend. As parents, as engaged citizens, and as leaders who stand vigilant against violence in communities across the country, the Deltas are deeply, and rightly, concerned about this case. The Justice Department shares your concern — I share your concern — and, as we first acknowledged last spring, we have opened an investigation into the matter….

“I believe that this tragedy provides yet another opportunity for our nation to speak honestly about the complicated and emotionally-charged [racial] issues that this case has raised. We must not — as we have too often in the past — let this opportunity pass….

“We are resolved, as you are, to combat violence involving or directed at young people, to prevent future tragedies and to deal with the underlying attitudes, mistaken beliefs and stereotypes that serve as the basis for these too common incidents. And we will never stop working to ensure that — in every case, in every circumstance, and in every community — justice must be done.”

On July 16, 2013, Holder spoke at the NAACP‘s national convention, where he made the following remarks about the Zimmerman/Martin case:

“The news of Trayvon Martin’s death last year … brought me back to a number of experiences I had as a young man, when I was pulled over twice and my car searched on the New Jersey Turnpike when I’m sure I wasn’t speeding, or when I was stopped by a police officer while simply running to a catch a movie … I was, at the time of that last incident, a federal prosecutor.

“So Trayvon’s death last spring caused me to sit down to have a conversation with my own 15-year-old son, like my dad did with me. This was a father-son tradition I hoped would not need to be handed down. But as a father who loves his son and who is more knowing in the ways of the world, I had to do this to protect my boy. I am his father, and it is my responsibility, not to burden him with the baggage of eras long gone, but to make him aware of the world that he must still confront….”

Also in mid-July, Holder’s DOJ set up, at taxpayer expense, a public email address asking for tips or information regarding Zimmerman — a move consistent with Holder’s previous pledge that his department would “consider all available information” before deciding whether to move forward with a civil-rights case against Zimmerman in the wake of his initial acquittal. DOJ and a number of civil rights activists also strategized via a conference call initiated by Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.


On April 11, 2012, Holder delivered a speech at the 14th annual convention of Al Sharpton‘s National Action Network. Among his remarks were the following:

“…Reverend Sharpton … I am especially grateful … for your partnership, your friendship, and your tireless efforts to speak out for the voiceless, to stand up for the powerless, and to shine a light on the problems we must solve, and the promises we must fulfill…. I am honored to be included in this annual gathering once again — and to bring greetings from President Obama…. This organization’s leaders, members, and supporters have been on the front lines of our nation’s fight to secure security, opportunity, and justice for all…. [Y]ou are carrying on … the work of a leader [Martin Luther King, Jr.] who, I believe, does stand as America’s greatest ‘drum major for justice’ …

“Despite the extraordinary progress that has marked the last four decades and transformed our entire society, the unfortunate fact is that — in 2012 — our nation’s long struggle to overcome injustice, to eliminate disparities, to bridge long-standing divisions, and to eradicate violence has not yet ended….”


On April 23, 2012, Holder’s Justice Department sued Jacksonville, Florida, claiming that the city’s use of written tests to determine promotions in its fire department had “resulted in a disparate impact upon black candidates,” who registered passing grades at significantly lower rates than their white counterparts.


In May 2012, Holder, along with then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman and IRS Exempt Organizations Division official Peter Lorenzetti, participated in a training session for black ministers from the Conference of National Black Churches. Holder himself spoke at this event, which was held at the U.S. Capitol and was hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). The objective was to advise black ministers on how to engage in politically partisan activity during the election season without violating the restrictions imposd by their tax-exempt status.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said the training session “undermined the integrity of the Justice Department”:

“[The CBC] had the IRS members there specifically to advise them on how far to go campaigning without violating their tax-exempt status…. I viewed the meeting as highly problematic. Eric Holder heads the agency that prosecutes organizations who give false information to the government. The Justice Department coordinates with the IRS on actions taken against not-for-profits. These ministries are given not-for-profit status on the basis that they are not engaging in any political activities. Here, the Obama administration was clearly encouraging them to maximize their efforts by showing them where the lines were drawn in federal case law…. It is a fundamental precept that cabinet members should not engage in political activities. The most important of those cabinet members would be the attorney general of the United States. To have the attorney general actively advising political allies of the president showed remarkably poor judgment on his part.”


On September 18, 2012, The Daily Caller reported that internal DOJ emails (obtained via the Freedom of Information Act) showed that Holder’s communications staff had secretly collaborated with Media Matters For America in an effort to discredit and suppress further news stories about scandals that were plaguing Holder and his agency. According to The Daily Caller:

“Dozens of pages of emails [sent in September and November 2010] between DOJ Office of Public Affairs Director Tracy Schmaler and Media Matters staffers show Schmaler, Holder’s top press defender, working … with Media Matters staffer Jeremy Holden on attacking news coverage of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation scandal….

“At 9:50 a.m. on July 8, 2011, Media Matters’ Matt Gertz wrote to Schmaler asking for her help ‘debunking what I think is a conservative media myth about Operation Fast and Furious.'”

For further details about these and other collaborations between Media Matters and DOJ, click here.


In the wake of the deadly Boston Marathon bombing by two Islamic terrorists on April 15, 2013, the surviving bomber, Dzhokar Tsarnaev — who had been wounded by law-enforcement officers pursuing him — was interrogated by FBI agents in a Boston hospital. He was not read his Miranda rights prior to the questioning, due to a 48-hour “public safety exemption” that can be invoked in cases where there is reason to believe that a suspect may be able to provide information that could help authorities prevent additional, imminent acts of terror or destruction. During the first 16 hours of questioning, Tsarnaev revealed a significant amount of highly useful intelligence. But then, on orders from the Justice Department, federal judge Marianne Bowler entered Tsarnaev’s hospital room and, in a move that stunned the FBI investigators who were present, read him his Miranda rights. From that point onward, Tsarnaev refused to talk.


Fourteen days after the Boston Marathon bomb attack, Holder declared that the Justice Department would be on the lookout for any acts of violence or discrimination indicative of a backlash against Muslim Americans. Without mentioning the fact that the two perpetrators were Muslims, the Attorney General said:

“[J]ust as we will pursue relentlessly anyone who would target our people or attempt to terrorize our cities — the Justice Department is firmly committed to protecting innocent people against misguided acts of retaliation. In the dozen years since 9/11, this commitment has led the Department to investigate more than 800 incidents involving threats, assaults, and acts of vandalism and violence targeting Muslims, Arabs, Sikhs, South Asians, and others who are perceived to be members of these groups. As Americans, we must not allow any group to be stigmatized or alienated. We must not tolerate acts of hatred.”


In an April 24, 2013 speech to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund Awards Gala, Holder said: “Creating a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in this country is essential. The way we treat our friends and neighbors who are undocumented – by creating a mechanism for them to earn citizenship and move out of the shadows – transcends the issue of immigration status. This is a matter of civil and human rights. It is about who we are as a nation. And it goes to the core of our treasured American principle of equal opportunity”


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