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Administration eyeing defense lawyer Cole as deputy AG

James Cole in a 1997 photo. (Ray Lustig/The Washington Post).
By Al Kamen

The Obama administration is preparing to nominate Washington white-collar defense lawyer James A. Cole as its next deputy attorney general, sources are telling the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica.

Cole, a 13-year Justice Department veteran and a longtime friend of Attorney General Eric Holder, would take over for David W. Ogden. Ogden left the post in early February after about 11 months.

White House and Justice Department sources declined Monday to confirm or deny the report.

Cole, 57, has held numerous jobs in government. He was deputy chief of the Justice Department's public integrity section before leaving the department in 1992; he then became a top official in the Clinton presidential transition following the 1992 election. He was a special counsel to the House Ethics Committee in 1997 as it investigated allegations that former House speaker Newt Gingrich used tax-exempt money for partisan purposes. Gingrich was fined $300,000 and was reprimanded by the House.

Cole is now a partner at the Washington law firm Bryan Cave.

It was unclear when a formal selection for the job might be announced. One issue likely to come up at any confirmation hearings for Cole is his private-sector work involving American International Group. Under a 2004 government settlement with the giant insurer, the Justice Department demanded that AIG name an independent monitor to report periodically to Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission about AIG's operations.

AIG tapped Cole for the job and, according to a Wall Street Journal report last year, paid Cole and his law firm about $20 million for that oversight effort, which included attending AIG board meetings. However, he reportedly was not assigned to review matters directly related to the company's near-collapse.

By Al Kamen  |  April 19, 2010; 6:17 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Usually a Civil defense attorney represents big businesses against some little guy who has been hurt. Would like to know who he has defended...with ant luck it will the ACLU,NAACP, etc.

Posted by: mmari1 | April 20, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Some of the comments here suggest that their writers either didn't read the article very carefully, or that they are just grasping at any excuse to criticize.

Cole was appointed to the oversight position because the Justice Department demanded that AIG name an independent monitor. AIG was obliged to pay for this oversight, but Cole wasn't working for them... because he WAS an independent monitor, AIG had no further power to fire him, even though they were still responsible for the bills. The article also says that Cole's monitoring responsibilities did not include the area (presumably sub-prime mortgage based securities) that led to AIGs catastrophe, so its really reaching to blame Cole for any part of that. Anyway, these finance corps, AIG, Goldman-Sachs, Baer-St, etc, all lied to everyone else (investors, regulators, the general public). Wouldn't they lie to the "independent monitors" that the Justice Department stuck them with, too?

Posted by: Observer44 | April 20, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

OMG! As if Eric Holder isn't bad enough, Obama is bringing in his closest friend to keep him company. Obama doesn't have the sense he was born with, his professional acumen is non-existant.

Posted by: prossers7 | April 20, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: itkonlyyyou19 | April 20, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Let's get someone from outside the loop. We don't need anyone who has been embroiled in the country's financial meltdown in any way, nor do we need a "friend of Holder" who might not be willing to offer differing opinions. It's time for new blood, and I'm sure that there are people not involved in the "inside the beltway" syndrome who would serve the country well if not better.

Posted by: sober1 | April 20, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Aardvarks, THANK YOU for having great reading comprehension skills!

Posted by: chgosatrap | April 20, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

ATTENTION MR. COLE: Your first assignment -- put Civil Rights Division and FBI on this case, STAT. And ask Mr. Holder why he has waited so long to act...


* Thousands of Americans slandered as "dissidents" or undesirables, targeted by Bush legacy program for debilitating, cell tower- based precision-targeted microwave//laser assault, held hostage in their homes to fed-supported vigilante "community policing" stalking units equipped with warrantless GPS devices, who vandalize and terrorize as local police look the other way.

* Electromagnetic radio frequency microwave/laser weapon system -- a nationwide installation employing cell towers and satellites -- silently, invisibly induce weakness, exhaustion, mood changes, pain, head and body aches, physical and neurological impairment, strokes, aneurysms, sickness, cancer -- and many victims do not realize what is making them sick.


* Regional Homeland Security- administered "fusion centers" reportedly serve as command centers for covert electromagnetic radiation attacks, pervasive surveillance, financial sabotage of those identified as "dissidents," "trouble-makers" or slandered as threats to society.

* Use of microwave weaponry to torture and impair political opponents recently confirmed by deposed Honduras President Manuel Zelaya.

* Pleas for justice, to local police and FBI, go unanswered -- as do demands for a Department of Justice Civil Rights Division investigation and congressional hearings.

"These are crimes against humanity and the Constitution, being perpetrated under the cover of national security and 'safe streets' by multiple federal and local agencies and commands -- an American genocide hiding in plain sight, enabled by the naivete of those who think 'it can't happen here.'" -- Victor Livingston, former reporter for WTXF-TV Philadelphia, Phila. Bulletin, N.Y. Daily News, St. Petersburg Times; producer/host, MSG Network Sports Business Report; columnist,

BUCKS COUNTY, PA- BASED MAGLOCLEN FUSION CENTER -- "Centcom of a Mid-Atlantic States Fed- and Police-Protected American Gestapo."

Why won't FBI Open a D.O.J. / Civil Rights Division investigation?

OR (see "stories" list).

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 19, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

So this guy was the "oversight" At AIG DURING the time AIG was selling the bogus "insurance" that cost the PEOPLE over $200 BILLION???? And now Obammao/AIG are going to REPAY HIM by making him #2 at the Dept. of "Justice"????

Doesn't anyone in DC have a nose anymore or are they all blown out from snorting too much coke? GOD THIS STINKS!

Posted by: Fiftycaltx1 | April 19, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

It is funny how the depth of the argument shows the full reach of the commentators IQ. You never here nonsense partisan talking points dicussed after a real policy disection by the post. Following those, one can actually see an American individual's opinion, not Beck or Rush's reheated.

Posted by: dbrown52 | April 19, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Any friend of Holder's is an enemy of mine!

Posted by: madmike272 | April 19, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I think at the time Cole was working for AIG, he was being paid by AIG money. Once the government took over (and AIG money became taxpayer money), Cole's role pretty much ended. I think that happened before Obama took office.

Posted by: aardvarks | April 19, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

So the taxpyers paid a Dem insider $20m? Not the kind of CHANGE we were promised.

Posted by: BenLaGuer | April 19, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

So the taxpyers paid a Dem insider $20m? Not the kind of CHANGE we were promised.

Posted by: BenLaGuer | April 19, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

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