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WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder was briefly hospitalized Thursday after reporting faintness and shortness of breath.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said Holder began experiencing the symptoms during a regular morning senior staff meeting at the department.

"As a precaution, the attorney general was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center to undergo further evaluation,'' Fallon said, adding that he was alert and in good condition.

He was released at 1:15 p.m. Justice officials said he was resting at home.

Holder, 63, was sworn in five years ago as the 82nd attorney general of the United States.

A former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, Holder is the first African American to hold the top post at the Justice Department.

Holder has spent nearly his entire career within the federal criminal justice system, once serving as the chief federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia. In 1988, he was nominated by President Reagan to become an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

A native of New York City, Holder graduated from Columbia College in 1973 and earned his law degree in 1976 from Columbia Law School.

He is married to physician Sharon Malone and has three children.

The target of intense criticism by congressional Republicans during his early tenure (a House committee voted to hold him in contempt in 2012 for the department's handling of a botched gun trafficking inquiry), Holder once contemplated an early departure from Justice. But late last year, he expressed a new desire to remain on the job and has launched a series of initiatives aimed at revamping the nation's criminal justice system.

Earlier this month, he urged a repeal of state laws that ban felons from voting, a penalty that disproportionately affects African Americans.

"It's something that really animates me and makes me want to continue in this job," Holder said in a November interview with USA TODAY. "There are still things I want to do."

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