President Barack Obama's plate is getting a little more full, with the announcement Thursday that Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole is exiting the administration.
With Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. already on his way out, Cole's exit will leave the top two positions at the key Cabinet agency vacant.
“Over the past four years, Jim Cole has been my indispensable partner in leading the U.S. Department of Justice and extending the promise of equality under the law for everyone in this country," Holder said in a statement, adding he will be "dearly missed."
Like Holder, Cole is sticking around until a replacement comes on board.
The move had been in the works for a while. Cole informed the White House of his intention to leave Sept. 18, according to a Justice official. Cole, who first served in the department in 1979, leaves a major hole to fill in the day-to-day operations of the department as it faces a host of thorny issues from immigration to drug policy.
Senate Democrats could face pressure to confirm both top jobs in a lame duck session should they lose control of the chamber in the midterm elections, to avoid giving Republicans a say over the president's picks.
The news came a day after ACLU lawyer Vanita Gupta was announced as the president's pick to head up the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.
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