Jus­tice nom­i­nees pass com­mit­tee, will ad­vance to see full Se­nate

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY ANDREA NO­BLE

Se­nate Democrats on Mon­day sup­ported the nom­i­na­tion of Rod Rosen­stein for the No. 2 spot in the Jus­tice Depart­ment, de­spite his re­fusal to prom­ise to ap­point a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to han­dle the probe of Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the pres­i­den­tial election.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions’ has re­cused him­self from a probe into Rus­sian hack­ing and its in­flu­ence on the pres­i­den­tial election, leav­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity to fall to his deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral.

The Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee voted 19 to 1 to ad­vance Mr. Rosen­stein’s nom­i­na­tion for the po­si­tion to the full Se­nate.

Several Demo­cratic sen­a­tors noted their sup­port for Mr. Rosen­stein as well as their de­sire to see him ul­ti­mately ap­point a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to han­dle the Rus­sia probe.

“He has a rep­u­ta­tion for in­tegrity that is un­usual for this ad­min­is­tra­tion’s nom­i­nees,” said Sen. Pa­trick Leahy, Ver­mont Demo­crat. “But if con­firmed, he will in­herit a sit­u­a­tion that no Jus­tice Depart­ment nom­i­nee has faced since 1973: an ac­tive crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a sit­ting pres­i­dent’s cam­paign and ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Not­ing the cir­cum­stances war­rant the ap­point­ment of spe­cial coun­sel, Mr. Leahy said he would sup­port Mr. Rosen­stein’s nom­i­na­tion “be­cause I ex­pect him to do the right thing when fac­ing such piv­otal is­sues.”

Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, Con­necti­cut Demo­crat, was the lone “no” vote against Mr. Rosen­stein.

“I have asked him for a com­mit­ment that he will do it. So far he has not given that com­mit­ment and there­fore I will vote against him to­day and I will work against him as long as he de­clines to give that com­mit­ment,” Mr. Blu­men­thal said.

Dur­ing his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing in Fe­bru­ary, Mr. Rosen­stein, who has served as the U.S. At­tor­ney for the Dis­trict of Mary­land un­der both Repub­li­can and Demo­crat ad­min­is­tra­tions, re­sisted calls from Democrats to prom­ise to ap­point spe­cial coun­sel to han­dle the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He said while he has no knowl­edge of the facts of the FBI’s probe, he was “not aware” of any ba­sis that would dis­qual­ify him from over­see­ing such an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

At Mon­day’s hear­ing, the Se­nate com­mit­tee also con­sid­ered the nom­i­na­tion of Rachel Brand for as­so­ciate at­tor­ney gen­eral — which proved more di­vi­sive. The com­mit­tee vote fell along party lines, with 11 Repub­li­cans vot­ing for her nom­i­na­tion and nine Democrats vot­ing against it.

Sen. Dick Durbin, Illi­nois Demo­crat, out­lined several reasons for his op­po­si­tion to Ms. Brand, who has pre­vi­ously served as as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral for le­gal pol­icy at the Jus­tice Depart­ment dur­ing Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and on the Pri­vacy and Civil Lib­er­ties Over­sight Board af­ter nom­i­na­tion by Pres­i­dent Obama.

Mr. Durbin said Ms. Brand’s re­fusal to agree to re­cuse her­self from any mat­ters in­volv­ing the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce, for whom she pre­vi­ously worked, as well as her re­fusal to ad­dress his ques­tions on civil rights is­sues fu­eled his de­ci­sion not to sup­port her nom­i­na­tion.

In a writ­ten ques­tion­naire, Ms. Brand de­clined to an­swer a se­ries of Mr. Durbin’s ques­tions about vot­ing rights and the DOJ’s de­ci­sion this year to re­verse its po­si­tion and ask for a judge to dis­miss its ear­lier claim that a Texas voter ID law was en­acted with the in­ten­tion of dis­crim­i­nat­ing against mi­nor­ity vot­ers.

“Be­cause that case in­volves pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion, it would not be ap­pro­pri­ate for me to comment on it,” Ms. Brand wrote of the Texas case.

It was un­clear when the full Se­nate might vote on the nom­i­na­tions.

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