Eric Holder hospitalized for faintness, shortness of breath

CBSNews

Updated 4:30 p.m. ET

Attorney General Eric Holder was taken to the hospital Thursday morning after experiencing faintness and shortness of breath during a staff meeting Thursday morning, Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said. He was released at 1:15 p.m. and went home to rest, the Justice Department said.

"As a precaution, the Attorney General was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center to undergo further evaluation," Fallon said in an emailed statement.

A Justice Department official told CBS News that Holder became ill during his daily 9:30 a.m. meeting with staff. He excused himself and walked out of the room. His security detail then made the decision that he should go to the hospital.

He was transported by ambulance to the hospital, the official said, adding that en route Holder joked with paramedics and never lost consciousness.

Holder arrived at the hospital at 10:30 a.m. "and was treated for an elevated heart rate," Fallon said. "He received medication that quickly restored his heart rate to a normal level, and after successfully completing a full range of tests, doctors were satisfied that the Attorney General could be discharged."

A Justice Department official told CBS News that a battery of tests completely ruled out a heart attack - it wasn't even a mild heart attack, just an an irregular heartbeat.

The Justice Department press office told CBS News that Holder is in excellent health, noting that he walks five flights of stairs to his office every day and was expected to play basketball this weekend.

Fallon added, "Several years ago, the Attorney General experienced similar symptoms, but in milder form that did not require serious medical attention."

Holder, the 82nd U.S. Attorney General, has served in the position since President Obama took office in 2009 and has repeatedly said he has no plans to step down any time soon.

Last June, when asked what might compel him to leave his post, he told a Senate panel, "The tipping point might be fatigue - you get to a point where you just got tired."

Beyond that, he said, "There are certain goals that I set for myself and for this department when I started back in 2009. When I get to a point where I think that I've accomplished all the goals that I set, I will sit down with the president and we will talk about a transition to a new attorney general."

Later that year, though, he told CBS News' Justice correspondent Bob Orr that he had no plans to step down anytime soon and planned to remain into his post "well into 2014."

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