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Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole Delivers Remarks at His Farewell Ceremony


Washington, DC
United States

After hearing all these wonderful speeches, I'm reluctant to get up and say anything.  I should just quit while I'm ahead.  But I can't resist the opportunity to say a few things.

First, I have to thank the President for placing his trust in me and giving me this incredible opportunity.

I also want thank everyone in my office.  All I’ve done is only a reflection of their good work.  But in particular, Stuart Goldberg, my Principle Associate, for being such a valuable source of advice and for driving so much of what we accomplished and Melanie Dix, my confidential assistant, for tackling one of the most complicated day-in and day-out schedules ever known to mankind and in so many ways keeping my office going.

I also want to thank our speakers.

Bob Litt. I’ve known him for years. Over the past few years, he has had a very difficult job, dealing with some of the most challenging legal issues concerning how we go about keeping our country safe and protecting privacy and civil liberties. Our country was lucky to have someone with his sense of fairness, openness, and intellect to take on that role and we are all better off because of it.

Neil [Eggleston]. I’ve also known him for years.  Brilliant lawyer, wise counsel and very experienced in the ways of Washington.  The president couldn't have made a better pick to replace two other great White House counsels, Bob Bauer and Kathy Ruemmler.

Stuart [Delery], I have seen you in a succession of positions in the department and been impressed by your legal skills, impeccable logic, and superb judgment. This has been the reason you have repeatedly climbed the ladder to higher and higher positions in the department, and I would expect that to continue throughout your career. 

Jim [Comey], you were the ultimate model of a DAG.  Before you came back to the FBI, I remember calling you more than once for advice on some tough issues in the Deputy’s office and always walked away from those calls wiser.  When Bob Mueller finished his term as FBI Director, you were the obvious choice and have proven our judgment correct time and time again since you've been here. 

Loretta [Lynch], I knew you as a great leader in the U.S. Attorney community, and that opinion has obviously been shared by the President of the United States.  Getting to know you over the years as a colleague and a friend has only reinforced my total confidence that the Department of Justice, that place we all love, will be in excellent hands once you are confirmed.   And I'm grateful for the fact that someone as experienced and talented as Sally Yates has agreed to take up the mantel of my work going forward.  The two of you will make a great team.

Eric [Holder].  It is hard to sum up in a few words what it has been like to not only have the greatest professional opportunity any lawyer could ever imagine, but to be able do to it in partnership with a friend of over 35 years.  Your leadership in this department has truly been unparalleled. You came in at a time when the department was at a low point in its history.  The first day you walked in the door, the men and women who have devoted their lives to this place came out to applaud your arrival, and you fulfilled their trust and restored the reputation of this institution.  The things you have accomplished in your time here have been nothing short of historic.  I cannot thank you enough for allowing me to share this with you.

And finally my family.  As many of you know, this job is all consuming. My wife Susan, my daughter Amanda, and my son Jackson had to put up with a lot over the last four years.  Their patience, their tolerance for my preoccupation, their love and support were incredible.  Few people get such a tangible showing of love from their families and I have been so fortunate to have seen it from them over and over.  Thank you all so much.  You are the most valuable parts of my life.

When you are given the gift of having a job like this, it is a rare opportunity to actually do something to make things better -- better for our country and for our world.

You've heard about some of these things from the people who already spoke here today, and I hope that in the reflection of time, I will have been found to have used this time well and made a difference. 

But what is so patently clear, is that to the extent I have accomplished anything, it wasn't done by me or any one person.  It takes many talented, dedicated, and just plain smart people to get anything of this scale accomplished.

This was another gift that I was given.  I had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people in the Justice Department, the White House, and the other departments and agencies throughout the government and even some in the Congress. People who asked the right questions and wanted to get it right.  People who truly wanted to make things better.  People who were dedicated to the cause of fairness and justice.

There were, at times, enormous obstacles in the way, and finding the right answers was frequently hard.  But that didn't stop us from finding a way through.

I know I will look back on this time in my professional life as a gift of enormous value in so many ways.  The opportunity to work on virtually every important issue of our time. The    accomplishments we were able to achieve.  The respected colleagues I was lucky enough to work with, who also became friends.

All good things do come to an end and now it's time to move on.  But I'm not going to stop working on all the important issues we started here.  I'll just do it from another place.  I will never forget this time in my life.  I'll never forget my time here in these hallowed halls of Justice. 

Updated January 8, 2015