President Obama will not nominate his former White House counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, to succeed Eric Holder as attorney general after she withdrew her name from consideration for the post.
White House officials confirmed on Friday both that Obama had asked Ruemmler to think about replacing Holder and that she informed him this week that she did not want to be nominated. "Kathy took this step this week on her own volition—as she always has done: putting the president and administration first," a White House official wrote in an email, commenting on the condition of anonymity.
Her withdrawal shakes up the field of contenders to lead the Justice Department for the next two years, as she was seen by some as Obama's preferred choice for the job. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and the solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, have also been mentioned as top contenders.
While not a household name outside of Washington, Ruemmler is known as a close adviser to the president, which could have been a liability during a Senate confirmation process for attorney general, a position traditionally viewed as demanding the most independence within the Cabinet. Holder has become a political lightning rod for Republicans, in part because of his tight friendship with Obama.