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Obama Cabinet: Holder mum; change expected at State, Treasury

Nov. 9, 2012 - 01:18PM   |  
By AAMER MADHANI and KEVIN JOHNSON   |   Comments
Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday he was assessing whether he'll stick around for Obama 2.0.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday he was assessing whether he'll stick around for Obama 2.0. (John Thys / AFP via Getty Images)

President Obama’s re-election victory isn’t even three days old, but discussions about what his second-term Cabinet might look like have already begun.

Predictions over who will stay and who will go were heightened Thursday, when Attorney General Eric Holder said he was assessing whether he’ll stick around for Obama 2.0.

“That’s something that I’m in the process now of trying to determine,” Holder said at forum at the University of Baltimore School of Law. “I have to think about, can I contribute in a second term?”

In any two-term presidency, churn among Cabinet officials and senior advisers is the norm, and Obama’s presidency likely will be no different. But with a looming “fiscal cliff” — the $600 billion in automatic budget cuts and tax hikes set to go into effect Jan. 1 unless the White House and Congress act — it’s unclear how quickly Obama will turn over key staff.

So far, the White House has been mum. “The personnel issues will be dealt with appropriately,” said Obama senior adviser David Plouffe.

Even before the election, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said they planned to move on.

Philippe Reines, a Clinton spokesman, said Thursday that Clinton still plans to leave, but suggested that she is in no rush. “At such an important time … she wants to ensure continuity, and realizes the confirmation of her successor might not exactly line up with Jan. 22, 2013,” Reines said.

Among those likely to be considered for Clinton’s job are Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; national security adviser Tom Donilon; and chief United Nations envoy Susan Rice, says H. Andrew Schwartz, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

For Treasury, among the names that have been bandied about, Schwartz says, is Jack Lew, Obama’s chief of staff and a former head of the Office of Management and Budget. Donilon’s name has also been floated to replace Lew as chief of staff if Lew leaves.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is often mentioned as a possible successor to Holder, should he move on, Schwartz said.

Holder’s term heading the Justice Department has been marked by tense relations with Republicans. The GOP-led House voted to hold Holder in contempt related to the congressional investigation into the gun-trafficking Operation Fast and Furious.

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Aamer Madhani and Kevin Johnson report for USA Today.

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