Leahy Backs Holder
By Carrie Johnson
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) just appeared on the Senate floor to declare his support for Eric H. Holder Jr., the leading candidate to become the next attorney general.
Leahy said this afternoon that Holder "would bring the kind of leadership, temperament, experience and judgment we need to restore the rule of law and rebuild the reputation of the Department of Justice so that it is worthy of its name," adding: "I think this choice would be welcomed by career professionals and prosecutors and that he could do a great deal to restore morale as well as the rule of law."
Holder has yet to be formally announced by the Obama-Biden transition team as its nominee at Justice. But sources close to the selection process say he is a near certainty to be named if the vetting proceeds as expected.
Leahy publicly broadcast his support even as conservatives murmured about Holder's activities during the Clinton administration.
Holder, 57, drew criticism yesterday from the Republican National Committee for not objecting to pardons that President Bill Clinton granted to fugitive Marc Rich and others on the last day of his White House tenure in January 2001. At the time, Holder was running the Justice Department as acting attorney general and was dealing with a flurry of issues on his way out the door.
Over the past two days Republicans, including Sen. Orrin Hatch , Sen. Jeff Sessions and Sen. Tom Coburn, have offered at least some support for Holder's bid to become the nation's first African American attorney general.
Confirmation hearings to probe the views of any candidate to lead the Justice Department, which stands at the center of raging debates over presidential authority, torture and domestic intelligence gathering, are sure to be fiery.
Posted at 2:18 PM ET on Nov 20, 2008
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