Senate Confirms Eric Holder As Attorney General 75-21

A strong vote of confidence for President Obama's pick at Justice and a firm rejection of the Bush justice policies as well as the culture of cronyism that Gonzales represented.

I think Sen. Sen. Russ Feingold speaks for us all:

"The confirmation of Eric Holder as our new Attorney General is a momentous day for the rule of law.  During his confirmation hearings, Eric Holder clearly and unequivocally stated that no one, including the president, is above the law.  Those were welcome words after eight years of Bush Administration policies that undermined our Constitution and damaged the integrity of the Department of Justice.

Feingold went on:

Mr. Holder has a distinguished record of public service, the independence and strength of character needed for this particular post, and an understanding of the importance of revitalizing the Department of Justice.  I look forward to working with him to restore the rule of law and protect the safety, security, rights and liberties of the American people."

Update [2009-2-2 22:36:22 by Todd Beeton]:In the Nay votes, Howie Klein sees the crystallization of the "hard-line Obstructionist Caucus":

The leader, of course, is Jim DeMint (R-SC) and his followers, the serial obstructionists at the bottom of the GOP barrel are Jim Bunning (R-KY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Tom Coburn (R-OK), David Diapers Vitter (R-LA), James Risch (R-ID), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Richard Burr (R-NC), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Miss McConnell (R-KY), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Ensign (R-NV), John Thune (R-SD), and John Barrasso (R-WY).

d-day senses a pattern:

Interestingly enough, they all come from the South and the Interior Western Plains states! How could that be?

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Eric Holder: The Anti-Gonzo

Eric Holder's Attorney General Senate confirmation hearing began this morning and the more I read, the more clear it becomes just what a clean break from the Gonzales style DOJ we're in for under Holder.

For example, the most recent post on The NYTimes' liveblog of the hearing features this beauty:

Never one to be less than sarcastic or hard-hitting, Senator Chuck Schumer just conducted a Q&A series with Mr. Holder, checking to see if he would ever be as beholden to Mr. Obama as say, one of this senator's most-criticized former attorneys general, Alberto Gonzales.

Mr. Schumer and Mr. Holder called the civil rights division of the Justice Department a "jewel" of the agency, with Mr. Holder promising to investigate fully what has happened to it in recent years.

Specifically, per TPM, Holder said he would revisit the decision not to charge Bush DOJ hack and criminal Bradley Schlozman.

Holder just told the Senate Judiciary committee that he wants to reconsider the Bush Justice Department's curious decision not to bring criminal charges against Schlozman, a former top department official who was found by a DOJ investigation to have politicized hiring decisions, then lied about it to Congress in an effort to cover it up.

Asked about the issue moments ago by Sen. Dianne Feinstein -- one of the lawmakers to whom Schlozman was found to have given an untruthful answer during testimony -- Holder declared: "I want to know why the determination was made not to pursue charges."

Also during his hearing, Holder exhibited zero nuance on whether waterboarding is torture.

Eric Holder, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's nominee to be attorney general, said he believed the controversial interrogation tactic of waterboarding, used by the CIA against three terrorism suspects, is a form of torture.

"I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, that waterboarding is torture," Holder said at his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday in response to questioning by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont. [...]

Holder's declaration on waterboarding signals that Obama's Justice Department would not tolerate it.

Not that it's difficult to be a better AG than Alberto Gonzales and not that there's any political peril in assertively claiming the anti-Gonzo and anti-Bush mantle, but it sure is nice to hear directly from Holder's lips.

The hearing will reconvene at 2:15pm EST.

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AG Mukasey Is OK

After quite a jarring collapse on stage at a Federal Society dinner last night, Attorney General Michael Mukasey seems to be recovering just fine:

Doctors gave U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey a clean bill of health Friday morning after an apparent fainting spell, according to Gina Talamona, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice.

Mukasey, 67, was released from the hospital and returned to work Friday at the Justice Department.

"All tests at the hospital have come back with good results, and I feel fine," Mukasey said in a written statement.

The attorney general underwent medical tests at George Washington Hospital after collapsing Thursday night at the Federalist Society dinner at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington.

The attorney general was given a CAT-scan on Friday morning which showed normal results, Talamona said. He was also given a MRI, a stress test and a stress echocardiogram.

"All of the tests have been reassuring. There is no indication that he suffered a stroke or any heart-related incident," Talamona said.

Some speculated last night that Mukasey may have suffered something more serious, given his slurred speech at the time of the collapse. So this is welcome news.

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AG Mukasey collapses in speech!

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed during a speech Thursday night and was being taken to a hospital.

Associate Attorney General Kevin O'Connor said Mukasey began shaking while addressing the Federalist Society at a Washington hotel. n_go_ca_st_pe/mukasey_collapses;ylt=AkG .d_YjxU6AZvarQad01Ks0NUE

My thoughts are with the AG.  I don't have to agree with the man to hope that he's alright.

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CNN: Eric Holder Tapped As Attorney General

The Situation Room reported the breaking news that Eric Holder is Barack Obama's choice for Attorney General.

The AP:

Washington attorney Eric Holder is President-elect Barack Obama's top choice to be the next attorney general and aides have gone so far as to ask senators whether he would be confirmed, an Obama official and people close to the matter said Tuesday.

Holder, a former U.S. attorney who served as the No. 2 official in the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton, would be the nation's first black attorney general.

Update [2008-11-18 17:53:30 by Todd Beeton] reports that "Holder has accepted the position but must still undergo a vetting process by the Obama transition team."

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