The Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee signaled on Friday that he will not acquiesce to GOP complaints and would stick to his original timeline for considering the nomination of Eric Holder as Attorney General.
In a lengthy statement from his office, Sen. Patrick Leahy offered no indication that he would move hearings on the Holder appointment from their scheduled date of January 8th. Moreover, he called GOP complaints that the nomination was being too quickly considered a fabricated and hypocritical critique driven by former Bush operative Karl Rove.
"In my statement to the Senate on November 20, I commended Senators Hatch, Sessions, Coburn, and Grassley for their nonpartisanship when they praised his selection. Senator Hatch spoke of his support for Mr. Holder, his experience and reputation. Senator Sessions, a former prosecutor, U.S. Attorney, and State Attorney General who is well aware of the problems at the Justice Department, said he was disposed to support him. Senator Coburn called it 'a good choice.' In addition, Senator Grassley has acknowledged Mr. Holder's impeccable credentials while reserving judgment. But of course since then, Karl Rove has appeared on the Today Show and signaled that Republicans ought to go after Mr. Holder. Right-wing talk radio took up the drum beat."
Leahy's statement comes the day after the GOP Senators he mentioned above took to the Senate floor to raise concerns about the Holder nomination. Their complaints focused primarily on Holder's involvement in the pardon of Marc Rich and other controversial actions taken by the Clinton Justice Department. Several suggested that if they weren't granted more time to consider the appointment, they would do everything in their power to hold up the nomination.
Leahy, who will have the greatest say in how Holder's nomination progresses, scoffed at the GOP's newfound desire for judicial prudence and political patience. Noting that there has been, on average, 29 days between the "announcement of an Attorney General designation and the start of hearings, and 37 days on average from the announcement of the nominee to the Committee vote," the Vermont Democrat wondered why, with Holder, Senate Republicans felt 39 days to consider the nomination and 50 days before the Judiciary Committee votes was too little time.
"When President Bush nominated Michael Mukasey last year," he said, "Senator Kyl said: 'Since the Carter administration, Attorney General nominees have been confirmed, on average, in approximately three weeks, with some being confirmed even more quickly. The Senate should immediately move to consider Judge Mukasey's nomination and ensure he is confirmed before Congress recesses for Columbus Day.' I held that hearing within 30 days. We should not change the standards now that a Democrat is making the selection."