44 The Obama Presidency
Dust Up over Holder Confirmation Hearings
By Carrie A. Johnson
A plan by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) to hold confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Eric H. Holder Jr. on Jan. 8 is coming under fire from committee Republicans.
The panel's ranking GOP member, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), yesterday appeared on the Senate floor to call for a delay of at least two additional weeks to review the record of Holder, a former D.C. Superior Court judge, U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia and deputy attorney general in the Clinton Administration.
Among other things, Specter reported that Holder's extensive nominee questionnaire and FBI background check were not yet complete.
"I am looking for a very constructive engagement to determine the qualifications of Mr. Holder," Specter said.
Specter's remarks ignited a tit-for-tat letter-writing exchange in which Leahy said he was "confounded" by his colleague's position. "The need for new leadership at the Department of Justice is as critical today as it ever has been," Leahy wrote.
Prominent GOP advisers including former White House aide Karl Rove have criticized Holder for his role in a last-minute 2001 pardon that Clinton bestowed on fugitive financier Marc Rich. But more moderate Republicans say that the pardon issue alone will not be enough to disqualify Holder or jeopardize his nomination.
Even so, GOP members on the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday began to tip their hand about possible subjects of intense inquiry at the upcoming hearing.
The lawmakers asked the current Attorney General, Michael B. Mukasey, to hand over "certain materials" related to Holder's earlier tenure at the department. Among the documents they seek are papers covering the probe into fundraising by then-Vice President Al Gore during the 1996 election cycle; the appointment of special prosecutors to investigate Clinton; and an investigation into the decsion to allow Loral Space & Communications to send a communications satellite to China.
Posted at 11:21 AM ET on Dec 11, 2008
44 The Obama Presidency
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