January 16, 2009
TESTIMONY OF LOUIS J. FREEH BEFORE THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY REGARDING THE NOMINATION OF ERIC HOLDER TO BE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES.
I am very pleased to appear before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in support of the nomination of Eric Holder for Attorney General of the United States.
I am very proud to have served in the United States Department of Justice for over 25 years (1975-2001). I became an FBI Special Agent in 1975, retired in June, 2001 and I am honored to be classified by OPM as a retired FBI Agent. I have served under every President since Jimmy Carter, being appointed as a Federal judge (Southern District of New York) by President George H.W. Bush and FBI Director by President Bill Clinton. Since retiring from the Department of Justice in 2001, I have supported and campaigned on behalf of both Democrats and Republicans for local, state and federal offices. My sole criteria for such support has been both men and women of high competence, integrity, good character and commitment to honest service and political independence in matters of important public interest.
Eric Holder meets and surpasses all of these criteria and has my unconditional support for the important position of Attorney General. His legal competence and skills are excellent. I know him to be a fine leader and a dedicated public servant. Most importantly, I know Eric to be a person of the highest integrity, good character and commitment to political independence in all the important matters which will come before him for decision as Attorney General.
I have personally known Eric for over sixteen years and have worked closely with him both in the Department of Justice, where I served for twenty-five years, as well as in the private sector, engaging him when General Counsel for MBNA America Bank as my lawyer for complex civil litigation. Based on this long personal and professional relationship, I am certain that Eric has the highest legal competence, total integrity, leadership, and most importantly, the political independence to discharge faithfully the immense trust this Nation reposes in its Attorney General. I also firmly believe that Eric will continue to have the complete confidence and trust of the thousands of dedicated men and women who serve us in the Department of Justice.
Eric is a career Justice Department lawyer who has rendered over two decades of dedicated and excellent service as a line prosecutor, Federal judge, United States Attorney, and Deputy Attorney General. Both in prosecuting and adjudicating important criminal and civil matters of critical importance to the Justice Department and to the United States, Eric consistently displayed superb legal ability, fairness, selfless dedication and courage. My FBI colleagues and I always ranked Eric as one of the Department's very best anti-corruption prosecutors and advocates for honest public service. He always acted in the highest traditions of the Department's professionalism, fairness and political independence. I was personally delighted when Eric was appointed United States Attorney for the District of Columbia because the incumbent in this critical law enforcement position must be fearless in the pursuit of justice and be able to withstand the inevitable pressures brought to bear on the most politically sensitive matters. Eric met all of these challenges and proved himself to be an outstanding prosecutor who carried out his duties without political favor or fear.
As the Senate Committee on the Judiciary well remembers, my tenure as FBI Director required that the Bureau and I initiate a series of the most sensitive criminal investigations where the President of the United States, who appointed me, and the other senior members of the Administration were the subjects of grand jury inquiry. During this highly-charged time, Eric served as United States Attorney for Washington, D.C., and later as Deputy Attorney General. In my then position of FBI Director, I worked closely and directly with Eric and had the unique opportunity to observe and evaluate all of his actions in connection with the execution of these criminal investigations. In all of Eric's interactions with me as FBI Director, as well as his close coordination with my Deputy and other Assistant Directors, who also had extensive and sometimes daily contact with him, Eric always displayed total integrity, courageous leadership, complete fairness and, once again and most importantly, political independence. These are exactly the character and professional qualities which Eric, in my judgment, will embody as Attorney General of the United States.
After retiring from the Department of Justice in June, 2001 after twenty-five years of government service, I went to work as General Counsel for MBNA America Bank in Wilmington, Delaware, then the largest independent issuer of credit cards in the world. When I needed to retain outside legal counsel in one of the most complex litigations involving the bank, I engaged Eric, then in private practice, to serve as my trial counsel. In addition to winning the trial, Eric succeeded in persuading the trial judge to impose costs on plaintiffs' attorney, a rare result in federal, civil litigation. As General Counsel, I could have engaged any lawyer in America to represent our bank. I chose Eric for all the same reasons I described above: his excellent legal skills, complete integrity, sense of fairness, courage and, most importantly, my confidence that he would provide me with his independent judgment without fear or favor.
I respectfully recommend that the Committee and its leadership support this fine nomination and confirm Eric as our next Attorney General. I am completely confident that he will be an excellent and apolitical leader of this great Department who will provide its terrific employees and the Nation with competent, dedicated service. For the record, I have never had any social relationship with Eric and nobody asked me to submit this letter. I am honored to give him my very highest personal and professional recommendation.