Justice Dept. No. 2 official, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, to resign

WASHINGTON – The No. 2 official at the Justice Department plans to leave his position, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole told staff of his plans to leave the Justice Department after roughly four years at the department.

He plans to remain in the position temporarily to ease the transition to a new deputy attorney general and would like to remain involved in sentencing policy and aiding prison inmates re-entry into society, the Justice Department said.

The move was announced just weeks after Holder announced his own plans to leave the Justice Department once a successor is confirmed.

“Jim’s leadership and ingenuity have been critical in attaining historic results on behalf of the American people,” Holder said in a statement. “During times of great challenge and unprecedented resource constraints, I have relied upon Jim to ensure that the Justice Department operates as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

As Holder’s deputy, Cole was involved in prison re-entry programs and a new clemency initiative for federal inmates and supervised recent criminal prosecutions against two foreign banks.

He also was involved in the decision to secretly subpoena telephone records of Associated Press reporters and editors in a national security leak investigation.

A former Justice Department prosecutor who handled corruption cases, Cole left for private practice before returning to serve as Holder’s deputy.