Meanwhile, Obama called Jeh Johnson a “cool and calm leader.”
“Jeh is respected across our government as a team player,” Obama said during remarks at the White House last month. “He is someone who knows how to get folks who don’t always agree to work towards a common goal.”
Johnson, who left the Pentagon last year to return to New York law firm Paul Weiss, said he was not seeking to return back to public service but that “when I received the call, I could not refuse it.”
In the Obama administration, Johnson was heavily involved in many sensitive policy issues, including the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and developing an approach for killing terrorism suspects abroad.
“I am a New Yorker, and I was present in Manhattan on 9/11, which happens to be my birthday,” Johnson said. “When that bright and beautiful day was shattered by the largest terrorist attack on our homeland in history, I wandered the streets of New York and asked ‘What can I do?’ Since then, I have tried to devote myself to answering that question.”
Some of Obama’s frequent black critics say the president has not done enough for African Americans but, in fact, black Americans benefit greatly from Obama’s policies.
On Wednesday, for example, Attorney General Holder announced $6.7 million in grants to state and local criminal and civil legal services groups that provide legal defense for the poor, which also includes numerous black folks across the country.
The grants from the Office of Justice Programs are part of the Justice Department’s efforts to improve indigent defense, which is often underfunded and understaffed.
“Everyone accused of a serious crime has the right to legal representation – even if she or he cannot afford it,” Holder said. “In recent years, the Department of Justice has made a commitment to improving the delivery, quality and availability of legal services for everyone in our country, including the very poor. Today’s significant grant awards will help ensure America’s criminal justice system is fair for every defendant, regardless of wealth.”
Moving forward, Holder, Rice and Johnson, if he is confirmed, will simultaneously lead key U.S. national and international law enforcement operations and, as African Americans, will make history in the process.