Holder Confirmation Hearings to Begin in Early Jan.
By Carrie Johnson
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vermont) said today he would hold confirmation hearings for Attorney General nominee Eric Holder Jr. the week of January 5.
Holder, a former second in command at the Justice Department during the Clinton administration, appeared on Capitol Hill today for traditional, closed door meetings with Senate leaders. If he is confirmed, Holder would become the nation's first African American attorney general.
Leahy told reporters that Holder would be a "superb match" for a department struggling with morale problems and budget constraints, and he issued a warning for Republicans who may be angling to bring up Holder's baggage from the Clinton years, particularly a last minute pardon the president bestowed on fugitive financier Marc Rich in early 2001.
"What the American people and our justice system need most from us is constructive engagement during the confirmation process, and not destructive, partisan sniping that is intent on tearing down instead of rebuilding the Justice Department," Leahy said.
For his part, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Republican Member Arlen Specter (Pa.) did not speak with reporters. But last week he told The Washington Post that "there will be some questions for Mr. Holder" at the forthcoming hearing, focused on the pardon issue and on what advice and guidance Holder may have offered in declining to name a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton era fundraising abuses.
Specter said he would ask Holder "about the issue of independence of the attorney general from the White House" and "the willingness to make appropriate disclosures on oversight."
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