HOLDER HEARING: Specter’s Grandstanding Much Ado About Nothing

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Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 7:06 pm

The confirmation hearings for Eric Holder to attorney general certainly weren’t as acrimonious as many predicted they’d be.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.), who made a kerfuffle over the Marc Rich and FALN pardons prior to the hearing, only touched briefly on Rich in his first round of questioning. And while FALN came up in a number of Senator’s time, Holder’s answer that he would possibly reconsider his decision on the pardon in a “post 9/11 era” seemed to satisfy Republicans.

In the second round of questioning, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) brought up Holder’s omission of his work for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but seemed easily placated by Holder’s explanation that his services were not needed, and he never billed Blagojevich.

As predicted, the majority spent much of their time rehashing the disaster that is the Justice Department, and pointing to the recently released report on the politicization of the Civil Rights Division. The minority spent a fair amount of time on it as well, and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ infamous legacy lurked on both sides of the aisles’ questions.

Holder repeatedly invoked his independence from the President; his desire to clean up the Justice Department; his plans to follow through on the reports from the Inspector General and his focus on restoring the Civil Rights Department to its former glory.  There was a modicum of pandering to the right — the guy does have to get confirmed after all.

At the tail-end of the hearing, Specter and Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) bickered briefly over the amount of time allotted for questioning, with Specter complaining that much more time had been given to Gonzales’ hearings.

All and all, Holder was not only impressive, he was obviously well-respected by the committee, even the minority. Tomorrow is the second panel, which should be very straight forward.

If these attitudes continue into tomorrow, it looks like we’ll be looking at Attorney General Eric Holder by next week.

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