June 12, 2009 5:41 PM
Eric Holder: The Complete Interview
Couric: Do you think these prosecutors were politically motivated?
Holder: No, I don't think so.
Couric: Just incompetent? Irresponsible? What?
Holder: We'll have to see what the - investigation shows. But - I'd be very surprised to see - if these lawyers had anything - any political motivation.
Couric: What do you think happened then? Why did they not, for example, turn over evidence to Ted Stevens' defense attorneys that could have had a major impact on the case?
Holder: I don't know why yet. But mistakes were clearly made. And the determination that I made was that that evidence should have been turned over. And on the basis of what that evidence was, I also made the determination that (UNINTEL) the case - should not go forward.
Couric: Let's move on to gun control, if we could, for a moment. There's been a recent state of mass shootings, as you know. And in late February, you said you wanted to reinstate the assault weapons ban. Then, a month later, you said you wanted to simply, quote, "Enforce the laws on the books." Did someone tell you to back off?
Holder: No. No one's told me to back off. I understand the second amendment. I respect the second amendment. I think we need to use common sense tools to keep the American people safe, to keep our streets safe. And I think the statements that I've made are - are consistent.
Couric: Well, it's been reported that democrats on Capitol Hill are getting increasingly chummy with the NRA and receiving more campaign contribution from that organization than in previous years. And nobody wants to get the NRA riled up. So has this become political at all?
Holder: No, I don't think it has. In fact, I look forward to working with the NRA to come up with ways in which we can use common sense approaches to reduce the level of violence that we see - in our streets, and make the American people as safe as they possibly can be.
Couric: But why not reinstate the assault weapons ban? Why do you think that's a bad idea? Fifty-four percent of Americans support that.
Holder: Well, I - as attorney general, I've gotta use the tools that I have right now. And the tools that I have that have recently - have been enhanced by - the recovery act, we have additional police officers that we're gonna be putting on the streets. We have additional monies we're going to be giving to our state - and local partners. We've reinvigorated the - the relationship we have with our state and local partners. Have to use those tools right now to try to do all that I can to keep the American people safe right now.
Couric: But you can't be a proponent of reinstating the assault weapons ban? You said in your congressional testimony that's something you would support.
Holder: Well, I - we'll certainly look at all the possibilities. I will consult with the president. And as I said - the president and I both believe that the second amendment is something that has to be respected. And we have to use common sense approaches - to keeping the American people safe.
Couric: What about gun shows? In over 30 states, people can simply walk into gun shows and buy a gun, sometimes, from unlicensed dealers without a background check. Would you support closing the gun show loophole?
Holder: Well, again, these are issues that we'll have to discuss. The president will be the one who will ultimately set policy. I'll certainly raise with him the thoughts that I have (UNINTEL) -
Couric: What - what are your thoughts on that?
Holder: Well, the thoughts that I have are that we have to make sure that we keep the American people safe. And we need to look at all the things, all the tools that we have, all the tools that we might want to have, and come up with things that are consistent with the second amendment. Things that are politically saleable and things that will ultimately be effective.
Couric: Does the closing the gun show loophole fall into those categories?
Holder: Well, that'll be one of the things I'll talk about with the president.
Couric: Ooh, you're slippery on this.
Holder: No. No, I'm not being slippery. I'm just telling you what I'm gonna do.
Couric: Okay. In Mexico, more than 90 percent of the guns, mostly assault weapons, used in drug cartel violence come from the U.S. So are existing laws really effective in dealing with this?
Holder: Well, I think one of the things we have to look at is we try to help our Mexican counterparts. (UNINTEL) the substantial number of guns that flow from the north to the south. Also, the bulk cash that flows from the north to the south. We have to have a better border interdiction program. Working with Janet Napolitano, who's the secretary of - department of homeland security, I think we're gonna come up with measures that'll make us more effective in that way.
I just spent the last week talking to the president of Mexico, the attorney general of Mexico. And we're gonna work together. We're - putting additional DEA resources on the southwest border, additional resources from ATF. I think those steps will help - reduce the flow of guns into Mexico.
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