It has been a busy couple of weeks for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, hasn't it? Between successfully negotiating the American Airlines-US Airways merger to securing $13 billion from JPMorgan Chase in connection with the 2008 financial crisis, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has had one of its most successful two week stretches in a while.
In fact, the JPMorgan settlement represents Holder’s first big win against a bank since the financial crisis. And some are saying that the settlement could represent a potential turning point in the attorney general’s tenure that has been controversial since he took office in 2009.
Holder has been criticized in the past for a number of perceived issues, including his mishandling of the “Fast and Furious” DOJ probe as well as the government seizing of Associated Press phone records. As recently as August, Holder discussed with President Obama how long he should remain in his current position.
However, despite some detractors (notably John McCain, who feels Holder wasn’t tough enough), the attorney general has been generally praised for his personal role in the settlement talks. “The JPM settlement should be considered a significant accomplishment for the Holder Justice Department,” said Columbia University political science professor Robert Shapiro to Bloomberg.
The deal in place not only resulted in the largest government penalty against a single entity in U.S. history, but it also still leaves open the possibility of criminal action against those JPMorgan and its employees who were involved in the crisis. In addition, the settlement provides a framework for Holder to go after other large banks in a similar fashion.
And according to Holder, bringing the fight other banks is exactly what he plans to do. “You have to wait until we are finished with all the work that we will do,” Holder said in an interview. “When we get to that point you will see that we have taken the mandate that we were given seriously, that we held people accountable, that we held institutions accountable.”
The rest of the DOJ apparently feels the same way. At a recent conference, Deputy U.S. Attorney General John Cole said he finds banks' compliance lacking and that “we cannot help but feel that the message [of compliance] is not getting through often enough or clearly enough.”
For more on InsideCounsel’s ongoing JPMorgan coverage, check out these stories: