October 20th, 2014

US Attorney General Eric Holder sits down with CNN’s Evan Perez

CNN’s Evan Perez sat down with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss Ferguson, national security and Leon Panetta’s recent criticism of President Obama.  Holder also took time to reflect on his time as Attorney General and one of the longest serving members of the Obama administration.  The interview aired on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper, 4-5  p.m. E.T.

Please credit all usage to CNN’s Evan Perez

Highlights from the interview are available after the jump.

Highlights from Interview:
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Holder on Ferguson:
HOLDER: my hope would be that people will understand that certainly with regard to the federal government that we look at the facts, look at the law, had to deal with that high standard and came to an appropriate conclusion when we do that.

PEREZ: If there isn’t an indictment against this officer, would you feel that it’s — that it was the right decision?

HOLDER: I think what we’ll have to do, as we always do in a civil rights investigation from a federal perspective, is look at what the state has done and then make a determination as to whether or not the state investigation was adequate.

Holder on National Security:
PEREZ: Turning to national security for a bit. Can you give me your sense of where we are in trying to make sure that we can get an early read on American jihadists before they go and do something?

HOLDER: Our estimate now is that there are probably about 12 people or so, about a dozen people or so who are in the Syria-Iraq area. We have dozens of investigations that are underway about other people who have either gone or planning to go.
So this is something that is a priority for us on — at the Justice Department and at the FBI, working in conjunction with our U.S. attorneys, where we’re trying to engage in preventive activities as well.

Holder on Leon Panetta:
PEREZ: You’re one of the longest serving members of the Obama administration, of the Cabinet. There was some really strong criticism recently from Leon Panetta, who led the CIA and the Pentagon. He called into question the president’s ability to make decisions, especially on Syria.
You were in some of those meetings. Did you see an indecisive president? How do you feel about the criticism that’s been made?

HOLDER: I have to really disagree with his characterization of the president. The president is a deliberate person in an appropriate way. But he’s also resolute once he makes up his mind.//So I think that Leon said in the book is unfortunate. But frankly, I don’t think it’s something that a former Cabinet member should do while the president he served is still in office. That’s not something that I would even consider doing.

Holder on Biggest Failures and Successes:
PEREZ: Would you give me a sense of what you think your biggest failure has been during your time here?

HOLDER: I think the inability to pass reasonable gun safety laws after the Newtown massacre is something that weighs heavily on my mind. And the thought that we could not translate that horror into reasonable — I mean, really reasonable gun safety measures that were supported by the vast majority of the American people is for me something that I take personally as a failure and something that I think we as a society should take as a failure, a glaring failure, that I hope will ultimately be rectified.

PEREZ: In the same vein, what would you consider your biggest success during your time here?

HOLDER: I’m happy with where we are with regard to our criminal justice reform issues, stands that we’ve taken against voter suppression efforts, the attempts to include the LGBT community in ways that it has not been before, to knock down those final vestiges of discrimination. There’s a whole variety of things. I’m proud of the work we’ve done in the national security sphere, what we’ve done with financial institutions and the record settlements that we’ve had. There’s a whole variety of things that I’m really proud of the people of this Justice Department and the way they’ve done them over the past six years.