By LOUIS FLORES
Growing discontent with Attorney General Eric Holder's administration of the Department of Justice spilled out into public view today when the nation's top legal enforcer attended a lecture at New York University.
The attorney general was delivering remarks about corporate crime and compliance inside Vanderbilt Hall, whilst NYU students were distributing a flyer, drawing attention to the DOJ's failure under Attorney General Holder's leadership to criminally prosecute major Wall Street banks in the aftermath of the investment abuses that triggered the 2007-2008 global financial crisis and recession.
Outside Vanderbilt Hall, protest signs were raised, calling for Attorney General Holder to answer a long-outstanding request submitted under the Freedom of Information Act, asking for records of the federal government's prosecution of activists. Another protest sign asked that the attorney general empanel a commission to investigate corruption at the New York Police Department, including at its Internal Affairs Bureau.
Attorney General Holder, who was raised in East Elmhurst, Queens, when he was young, has instituted controversial limits on First Amendment rights for journalists in the DOJ's crackdown on government whistleblowers. The limits, in the form of guidelines, allow federal prosecutors to possibly prosecute journalists, even though the media have protections of freedom of the press enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The long-outstanding FOIA request submitted to the DOJ seeks records that document how federal prosecutors can justify the prosecution of activists, who are only expressing themselves in accordance with their own First Amendment protections of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
The activist-related FOIA request, dated April 30, 2013, was never answered by the DOJ. An appeal, dated December 6, 2013, was filed with the DOJ after the FOIA request was deemed to have been constructively denied. Later, U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley (D-Queens) filed with the DOJ a letter in support of the FOIA appeal.
Yesterday, a post published in The Washington Post's Web site renewed speculation that Attorney General Holder may resign by year's end. Activists are hoping that Attorney General restores the public's faith in the DOJ before he leaves office.