As deputy attorney general, Cole serves as the second-in-command at Justice, running the day-to-day operations of a sprawling department with a multibillion-dollar budget and more than 110,000 employees. Cole, 61, didn't have the easiest path to the job. Obama first tried to appoint him to the post in May 2010, but Senate Republicans blocked the pick. The president then gave him a recess appointment that December, and he was confirmed to the post on a permanent basis the following June. Cole is a DOJ veteran, having first worked there from 1979 to 1992 in the public-integrity unit, prosecuting corruption. It was then that Cole first met Holder, and the two struck up a friendship (and an occasional poker game). "The attorney general trusts him completely," said Matt Miller, a former Justice spokesman who worked with both men, "and it is crucial in being able to perform well in that job." After Cole left DOJ in 1992, he joined Bryan Cave, where he worked until 2010. He didn't stray from the political sphere, though. In 1997, the House Ethics Committee hired him as outside counsel to head the probe of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich. The investigation led to a formal reprimand and a $300,000 fine. Born in Illinois, Cole received his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado and his law degree from the University of California (Hastings).
James Cole, Deputy Attorney General
MORE NATIONAL JOURNAL