Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderChristie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group Democrats look to state courts as redistricting battle heats up On The Trail: Census kicks off a wild redistricting cycle MORE marked his final hours as attorney general Friday by declaring himself "free" from his role as the nation's top law enforcement official, a position he has held for the past six years.
"I think we can officially say now that Eric Holder is free," Holder said to laughs during a ceremony with Department of Justice employees after taking off a "Free Eric Holder" wristband and throwing it into the crowd.
The wristband was part of an inside joke among Holder's top aides and supporters as they waited for the Senate to vote on his replacement, Loretta Lynch, whom the Senate confirmed this week in a 56-43 vote.
"It is not necessarily something that I want. I don't ever want to be free of this great institution. I don't ever want to be free of the relationships forged with so many of you. I don't want to ever be free of the notion that I am a member of the United States Department of Justice," Holder said Friday.
"I love you all madly," Holder said in thanking his colleagues and reiterating that he would miss them and the institution, saying it had defined him "as an individual, a lawyer, as a man."
He acknowledged that "this is my third-going away," insisting, "I promise, it's the last one."
Friday's ceremony commemorated Holder's more than six-year tenure serving as the nation's top law enforcement officer in the Obama administration, which saw regular sparring with Republicans in Congress. In 2012, The House held Holder in contempt for refusing to hand over documents related to the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking operation.
As part of his farewell, the Department of Justice released a nine-minute video labeling Holder "the people's lawyer," with remarks from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former President Clinton and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).
Holder, who it was announced in September would stay on as attorney general until Lynch was confirmed, said Thursday after the vote that he was "pleased" the Senate had confirmed his replacement.
"I am confident that Loretta will be an outstanding attorney general, a dedicated guardian of the Constitution, and a devoted champion of all those whom the law protects and empowers," Holder said.
Vice President Biden will swear in Lynch just before noon on Monday at the Department of Justice.
Lynch will assume responsibility leading the department as it works to fight terrorism and prevent cyberattacks, as well as focuses on issues of police tactics and race, among other issues.