Hatch Supports Holder, but...
By Al Kamen
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), in supporting Eric Holder's nomination to be attorney general today, noted supporting words from Senate Republicans, especially from the Senate Judiciary Committee's second-ranking Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. "I respect the man and I intend to support him," Hatch told reporters Wednesday, praising Holder's reputation and experience.
But no one should get too carried away. We recall Hatch's effusive praise of President Clinton's nominee for attorney general, Zoe Baird, in mid-January 1993, after it was revealed she had hired a Peruvian couple illegally in this country to be her nanny and chauffeur and didn't pay their Social Security taxes.
There was talk that the committee might delay her confirmation hearing to look into the matter, but Hatch said he would oppose the move, saying,"She's as straight a shooter as I've seen -- very intelligent, an excellent nominee."
Of the illegal hirings, he said: "It's no big deal. No one is above the law, but people make honest mistakes, and that should not deprive her from serving her country. She is a very fine person who has the qualifications to be attorney general." Hatch also said he was "so sick of the partisan politics. I don't want her smeared. I don't believe in that. If, by saying this, it clears the way for her, that's fine."
Another committee Republican, former Sen. Alan Simpson (Wyo.), was equally expansive, telling us at the time,"She feels contrition, but this is not something sinister." He said he would support her likely confirmation.
A week later, as the controversy grew, Clinton was forced to withdraw the nomination.
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November 20, 2008; 5:25 PM ET
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