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Former Attorney General Eric Holder at the University of Buffalo (Photo: WBEN/Mike Baggerman)
Posted: Thursday, 16 February 2017 10:16PM

Former AG Eric Holder Visits University of Buffalo

AMHERST, N.Y. (WBEN) - Former United States Attorney General Eric Holder visited the University of Buffalo on Thursday night as part of the university's "Distinguished Speakers Series".

As Holder took the stage inside the Alumni Arena, he told the audience that because he's no longer a member of the Obama administration, he didn't have to follow any "talking points".

"The press, the courts have today been challenged," Holder said at the start of his speech. "The reliance on facts to generate policy have been diminished and demeaned. The social progress we have made as a nation, long sought and long fought for, is at risk. Decades old and effective alliances have been questioned."

Holder explained there's always a need to challenge the old order but what's happened in the past few weeks have been civically unhealthy for the American experience.

"The power of the American people is too often underestimated," Holder explained. "Once roused, we are truly a mighty force. So I urge you all to rid yourselves of ideological blindness, unnecessary fear, destructive stereotypes, and dangerous, dangerous complacency, to make this a new era upon which we are about to embark a time not only of change but also an era of progress that stayed true to our founding ideals."

Eric Holder (Left) inside Alumni ArenaAmong the questions Holder asked were why he accepted the appointment as attorney general. Holder explained that the office was a powerful one which appealed to him. He also said he grew up in the justice department and serving under former President Obama gave him the opportunity to do what he wanted to do including promoting fairness and focusing on civil rights, anti-trust, and a variety of other issues.

President Trump was brought up during the discussion and Holder disagreed with the idea that Trump is an "illegitimate president". However, Holder explained that there are plenty of questions regarding FBI Directer James Comey's wisdom and his actions shortly before the November election.

Holder commented on current Attorney General Jeff Sessions and believes that he must recuse himself from the justice department investigations into President Trump's ties to Russia.

Other highlights include:
  • Saying Martin Luther King, Jr. would be happy today because an African-American person became president yet disappointed over the gap between law enforcement and blacks in the community.
  • Annoyed that his name will forever be associated with the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case, which he said the Supreme Court was wrong about.
  • Calling out writer Milo Yiannopoulos for being a provocateur and "an idiot", but he is allowed, and should have been allowed, to speak freely on the UC Davis campus.
  • Calling President Trump's travel ban "unconstitutional".

Among the attendees at the event of Kirsten Gregory.

"(President Trump) is a legitimate president," Gregory said. "But the system how he got elected, it should've been the popular vote which got him into the place and not this archaic electoral college system."

Gregory said that Trump's has been "true to character, which is a good thing," and praised his move to bar any aid to any group that provides or promotes abortions overseas. However, Gregory was against the president's controversial immigration ban by saying "You can't stereotype an entire religious belief or an entire sect of religion just because of the acts of a few."

Erin Brockenten, a student at St. Bonaventure, said she liked Holder commented on President Trump's legitimacy but added "a lot of people are angry about him being president, I don't particularly like him, but as far as the rules go for winning the election he did."

University of Buffalo officials told WBEN that approximately 2,800-3,000 tickets were distributed for the event.


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