The following is a transcript of an interview with former Attorney General Eric Holder. which aired on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, December 4, 2022.
Margaret Brennan: We now turn to former Attorney General Eric Holder. He is now the head of the National Democratic Redistribution Committee. And he has a book, “Our Unfinished March,” which explores the current state of America’s democracy. Welcome back to the program.
Eric Holder: Margaret, nice to meet you.
Margaret Brennan: I have a lot of things I want to get over with you. But I want to start on something I know is urgent this week. One organization you run that we’ve mentioned here that focuses on redistricting is involved in the Supreme Court’s Moore v. Harper case. The hearing is going to be held on the seventh of this week. And it boils down to as I understand it what the Constitution means when it assigns state legislatures the task of regulating elections. It sounds really strange, but you have put the future of democracy at stake. You’re worried about what’s really going to happen here?
HOLDER: Yes, the case is something called the independent state legislature doctrine. This is a fringe doctrine that North Carolina Republicans are trying to use to ensure that the North Carolina Republican legislature has sole responsibility for redistricting in the state and to exclude the state court system from that determination. This is something that, if the Supreme Court goes along with it, would really dismantle our system of checks and balances. And this is why I am extremely concerned. It’s a fringe theory, it’s something that if the Court does the right thing I think, you should have a nine to zero opinion by the Court that rejects this notion of this independent state legislature doctrine that has been championed by conservative scholars. has been rejected. practicing Republican lawyers, by former Republican judges, and also by this convention of state supreme court justices. This is a very dangerous theory. It will endanger our system of checks and balances.
Margaret Brennan: So there were several Democratic senators who actually filed a brief petition asking the Supreme Court not to hear the case. So here are some heavy hitters saying don’t even talk about it. What does this tell you about the potential pitfalls here? I mean, is there any value in the Supreme Court hearing this and striking it down? Or does their hearing this signify something else to you?
HOLDER: Yeah, it’s hard for me to see how the court took this case. I think it would have been better for the court to have dismissed it. But having taken up the matter now, I hope the Court will wade through this notion of an independent state legislature principle and get it off the books and, in our view, once and for all. It really is, I cannot stress this enough. This is actually a fringe theory which should result in a nine to zero rejection of theory K-.
Margaret Brennan: So we mentioned you’re working on redistribution. Democrats are suing to overturn the congressional maps in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas. I read a quote of yours in the Washington Post saying that the work you’ve been doing on redistribution has paid off in the recent midterms. Do you think your legal battle will benefit Democrats in 2024? what are you trying to say there?
HOLDER: Yeah, I think what we’ve seen, there have been studies that say the work we’ve done has resulted in the fairest redistricting process in the last 40 years. 75% of redistribution is considered fair, which also means that 25% of it is unfair, and this is still problematic. I think, for example, the House of Representatives is going to play out for the entirety of this decade in contrast to where it was in the past decade after the successful Republican gerrymandering that happened in 2011 and 2012. Difficult for Democrats to take back the House I think the Democrats will be able to take back the House in early 2024. But what we’ve done doesn’t ensure that Democrats are going to hold the House for a full decade. It is for the American people to decide. In that determination, fairness will rule.
Margaret Brennan: When you were last on this program in May, you shared at the time that you recently changed your mind that you believed the Department of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland should be able to put former President Trump on his Must be held accountable for actions. You thought at first that it would be very divisive for the country. Now, what is your assessment of where we are with this particular piece of advice? And how should Merrick Garland, who ultimately has to decide, weigh the question of the risk of political violence in this country with any decision made regarding the former president?
HOLDER: Well, I think the attorney general said it pretty well, that he will make a decision without fear or favor. There is—all are to be held accountable for the same system. The determination he has to make should be based on facts and law. And we just have to deal with the consequences. The reality is that if he decides one way or the other, it will be divisive. And so the best thing to do is to make sure that everyone under consideration for possible criminal treatment, including the former president, is treated just like every other American. And that’s the opinion that the circuit court this week essentially said that you can’t make things up. As a district court judge you can’t make things happen for a former president that don’t exist for regular US citizens. Treat everyone equally, decide based on facts and law. And I think the United States has the ability to absorb a potential indictment and deal with it fairly and move the nation’s business forward.
Margaret Brennan: As someone who has been an attorney general, I also wonder how you think about the case before the US District Attorney in Delaware about President Biden’s son Hunter. CBS has informed that the FBI has sufficient evidence to charge him with tax and gun-related crimes. How would you handle this? a plea deal? Is the Attorney General ready to take a tough stand because he works for the President?
HOLDER: No, I mean, you have—they’ve left it to the Republican, Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney in Delaware to consider the matter. You have career lawyers working on this, career FBI agents. You want to listen to their recommendations and then make a decision based on the facts and the law. The defendant should not be treated more harshly because of who he is, to whom he is related, he should not be given a break because of who he is or to whom he is related. They should be treated the same way former President Trump should be treated, just like any other American citizen. If someone is guilty, then that person should be held accountable for his acts. And if there is no basis for a case, the case should not be brought.
Margaret Brennan: But eventually it will come to the Attorney General’s desk.
HOLDER: That’s definitely the way I would run the Justice Department. And my guess is also that this would be something that Merrick Garland would be doing as well. In Washington, D.C. I doubt this determination will be made
Margaret Brennan: All right. General Holder, thank you very much for your time today.