Democratic Rep. Polis Would Be 'Very Happy' If Eric Holder Resigns

Congressman's chief of staff insists he's not demanding resignation, just saying he would appreciate it.

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Rep. Jared Polis, right, is not demanding the resignation of Attorney General Eric, left, according to his chief of staff, just saying he would appreciate it.
Rep. Jared Polis, right, is not demanding the resignation of Attorney General Eric, left, according to his chief of staff, just saying he would appreciate it.

Rep. Jared Polis, a progressive Democrat representing Boulder, Colo., has had enough of Attorney General Eric Holder and would be pleased if he resigned.

"I would be very happy to see him leave," Polis told The Coloradoan in an interview published Wednesday.

Polis offered four major reasons he has lost confidence in Holder, including: the Justice Department's pursuit of reporters during leak investigations; Holder's non-committal to respecting state marijuana legalization laws; his apparent approval of NSA surveillance; and the "abuse of prosecutorial discretion" by federal prosecutors.

Regarding Colorado's marijuana legalization law, which will usher in state-licensed recreational weed shops next year, Polis complained that "[e]very time we've talked to [Holder] about it — and I've talked to him many times about it — it's just kind of the typical attorney thing: no answer, just nothing, talk around it, not yes, not no."

[READ: Holder Scolded by Republicans for Ignoring Sentencing Laws]

The Justice Department has not said if it will try to block the state plans. "I don't like that. I like directness," he said.

Polis also specifically mentioned the prosecution of Aaron Swartz, the Reddit co-founder who committed suicide as federal prosecutors pursued severe charges after he downloaded research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Justice Department is "making examples out of people, and it's wrong. It's abuse of prosecutorial discretion, and the attorney general has done nothing to rein that in," Polis told the local publication.

[RELATED: MIT Review Says School Didn't Target Swartz]

Despite his apparent call for Holder's resignation, a demand that would have been the first of its kind from the House Democratic Caucus, Polis' staff insists that his position is slightly more nuanced.

"[J]ust to clarify he did not call on Holder to resign. Instead he said he would be happy if he left," Polis Chief of Staff Brian Branston told U.S. News in an email. "Big difference."

Polis repeated his criticisms of Holder in a Thursday interview with U.S. News, but declined to say if he’s calling for the attorney general to resign. He did repeatedly stress, however, that he would like that to happen.

"I've been disappointed with his performance in several areas. It isn't just one thing, it's a pattern," the congressman said. "I would be pleased to see him go, and if he stays I hope he changes his stripes and performs better."

[READ: Legalization Advocates Hold Breath After DEA Dispensary Raids]

Polis made a fortune founding the company ProFlowers and is among the wealthiest members of Congress. He's one of five openly gay representatives and was one of five named co-sponsors on last month's anti-NSA phone surveillance amendment - popularly know as the Amash amendment, after its author - in the House.

In June 2012 the House of Representatives voted 255- 67 to find Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to provide documents on the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious program, a gun-running investigation that lost track of guns later tied to murders. Seventeen Democrats voted with Republicans, but 109 others did not vote, including Polis.

Holder has held office since February 2009. In June, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett told HuffPost Live he "is an outstanding attorney general" and "will be in his position for quite a while" after it was disclosed that his department seized the phone records of Associated Press journalists in a leak investigation and that he personally approved an affidavit naming Fox News reporter James Rosen as a possible criminal co-conspirator for communicating with a source.

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  • Updated 08/15/13: This article was updated with comment from Polis.