Holder’s Chief of Staff, Gary Grindler, to Depart this Week
By Elizabeth Murphy | December 3, 2012 3:05 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder’s chief of staff announced today he will be leaving the Justice Department later this week, the department confirmed.

Gary Grindler, Holder’s chief of staff since January 2011, has not announced where he is headed, though he is considering positions in the private sector, a statement from Holder said.

Gary Grindler (photo by Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice)

“Gary has distinguished himself as an exceptional public servant, a trusted adviser, and a principled leader,” Holder said in the statement.  “Throughout his tenure — as Acting Deputy Attorney General and as my chief of staff — Gary has played a central role in our work to protect the American people and I will always be grateful for his dedication to the department, his service to our nation, and his sound advice and personal friendship.”

The Justice Department noted his role in the historic $4 billion settlement with BP over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Grindler retires after a long career at the department, beginning his tenure as a federal prosecutor in 1982 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York and then in the Northern District of Georgia. He went back to private practice in 1984 to begin his own defense firm before rejoining the Justice Department during the Bill Clinton administration. Under Attorney General Janet Reno, Grindler served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division, Counselor to the Attorney General and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General. During that time, he received the department’s highest honor, the Edmund J. Randolph Award.

He became a partner at King & Spalding LLP in 2000. And then, after President Barack Obama was elected, he returned to the department in 2009. He served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division until he was elevated to serve as acting Deputy Attorney General, the department’s No. 2 position, after then-DAG David Ogden resigned in 2010.

It fell to Grindler to testify before Congress in 2010 about an internal Justice Department review that largely cleared the George W. Bush-era lawyers who wrote legal memos authorizing the torture of suspected terrorists captured overseas.  Grindler also served as chair of the department’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force’s steering committee and as chair of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Intellectual Property.

Grindler became Holder’s Chief of Staff nearly two years ago, following the recess appointment of James Cole as the new Deputy Attorney General. He succeeded long-time Holder aide Kevin Ohlson, who returned to a career Justice Department position. The Justice Department Inspector General faulted Grindler in a report released in September on the botched Fast and Furious gun investigation, concluding that Grindler should have done more to understand the connection between guns linked the Fast and Furious probe that were found at the scene of a Border Patrol agent’s shooting death.

Grindler is succeeded by Margaret Richardson, the current Deputy Chief of Staff to Holder. She previously served as counselor to the attorney general for executive branch relations. In 2008, she worked as the director of Women for Obama in several states during the primaries. From 2004 to 2007, she headed a community clinical practice at U.C. Berkeley Law School, her alma mater. She also earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s of public administration from Harvard University.

“During her tenure, Margaret has proven through her thoughtful advice and tireless work to be a tremendous asset not just to me, but to the entire Department of Justice,” Holder said in a statement. “She is an outstanding public servant, a trusted adviser and a good friend, and I am grateful that she has agreed to continue to work with me as my next Chief of Staff.”

UPDATED 5:30 p.m.: This story has been updated to include the Attorney General’s statement on Margaret Richardson.

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