Despite being the first attorney general ever to be held in contempt of Congress, Eric H. Holder Jr. intends to stay in his post for the foreseeable future, the Justice Department confirmed on Wednesday.

Holder, the nation’s first African-American attorney general, had been expected to step down relatively early into President Barack Obama’s second term. But amid a string of high-profile Cabinet departures in recent days — including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and, on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Hilda D. Solis — Holder will remain as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

The news was first reported by The Associated Press.

Holder’s continued service ensures that his long-running clash with House Republicans over a failed gun-tracing operation known as “Fast and Furious” is likely to continue into the president’s second term. He is also likely to play a visible role in the administration’s emerging efforts to enact tougher gun and ammunition restrictions.

Holder and the GOP-led House have long had a difficult relationship. On June 28, the House voted to find Holder in contempt for refusing to turn over documents sought under a House subpoena relating to the Fast and Furious operation, in which the Justice Department allowed thousands of high-powered rifles to enter Mexico illegally. The initiative was a failed effort to trace the guns to Mexican drug cartels, and two were later found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry, in Arizona.

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