Se­nate ap­proves con­tro­ver­sial Cole as Holder’s top Jus­tice deputy

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JERRY SEPER

Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral James Cole was con­firmed onune 28 by the Se­nate, mostly along party lines, as At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder, Jr.’s top deputy, a po­si­tion he has held since Jan. 3 when he was in­stalled by Pres­i­dent Obama in a tem­po­rary re­cess ap­point­ment.

His con­fir­ma­tion came in a 55-42 vote with most Repub­li­cans hold­ing steady to their be­lief he was not qual­i­fied and chal­leng­ing his role as an in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant to failed in­surance in­dus­try gi­ant AIG prior to the com­pany’s nearcol­lapse in 2008 and its later gov­ern­ment bailout.

Some Repub­li­cans also had voiced concern about his stance on terrorism.

His pres­i­den­tial re­cess ap­point­ment would have ex­pired at the end of the cur­rent session of Congress and many Repub­li­cans were set to con­tinue a fil­i­buster against con­fir­ma­tion in the wake of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fail­ure to re­spond to Repub­li­can re­quests for doc­u­ments on the prison at Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba, and a Bu­reau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearm and Ex­plo­sive’s (ATF) gun-buy­ing pro­gram known as “Fast and Fu­ri­ous.”

Once the ad­min­is­tra­tion said it would make the in­for­ma­tion avail­able, Repub­li­cans agreed to a con­fir­ma­tion vote.

One of the ma­jor stum­bling blocks was a 2002 ar­ti­cle Mr. Cole wrote for Legal Times in which he re­ferred to the Sept. 11, 2001, at­tacks as “crim­i­nal acts of terrorism against a civil­ian pop­u­la­tion,” and lumped those at­tacks in the same vein as “many other dev­as­tat­ing crimes” like rape, drug trade, or­ga­nized crime and child abuse.

Sen. Charles E. Grass­ley of Iowa, rank­ing Repub­li­can on the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, said the ar­ti­cle sug­gested Mr. Cole fa­vored civil­ian tri­als for ter­ror sus­pects. He said such de­ci­sions should be made “on a case-by-case ba­sis, not rul­ing out mil­i­tary com­mis­sions for some.”

“Mil­i­tary tri­bunals have many ad­van­tages to civil­ian crim­i­nal courts and are bet­ter equipped to deal with dan­ger­ous ter­ror­ists and clas­si­fied ev­i­dence while pre­serv­ing due process,” Mr. Grass­ley said. “I’m trou­bled that Mr. Cole does not ap­pear to share this be­lief.”

Mr. Grass­ley also said he had “con­cerns” about Mr. Cole’s abil­i­ties based on his per­for­mance as an in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant tasked with over­see­ing AIG. He said there were “se­ri­ous ques­tions raised” about Mr. Cole’s in­de­pen­dence and that he ap­peared to have a “level of def­er­ence to AIG man­age­ment one would not ex­pect to see from some­one tasked as an ‘in­de­pen­dent’ mon­i­tor.”

Oth­ers de­cried the con­fir­ma­tion process, in­clud­ing Sen. Pa­trick J. Leahy, Ver­mont Demo­crat and Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee chair­man, who called the de­lay “ex­ten­sive and un­nec­es­sary.” He said he could not re­call a time “when the Jus­tice Depart­ment and the coun­try were de­prived of such crit­i­cal ap­pointees.”

Amer­i­can Con­sti­tu­tion So­ci­ety (ACS) Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Caro­line Fredrick­son said the Cole vote was “em­blem­atic of a con­fir­ma­tions process that has se­ri­ously gone awry.

“The un­prece­dented de­lays in the con­fir­ma­tion process are harm­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of our courts to dis­pense jus­tice and the pres­i­dent’s abil­ity to carr y out na­tional se­cu­rity re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,” she said.

Mr. Cole was among three toprank­ing Jus­tice Depart­ment of­fi­cials who were con­firmed. Also get­ting the Se­nate’s ap­proval were Lisa Monaco as as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral for na­tional se­cu­rity and Vir­ginia Seitz as as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral of the Of­fice of Legal Coun­sel.

“I am pleased the Se­nate moved to con­firm Jim, Lisa and Vir­ginia, fol­low­ing their ap­point­ments by Pres­i­dent Obama,” Mr. Holder said. “I’m con­fi­dent they will pro­vide in­valu­able lead­er­ship to the depart­ment, and will play a crit­i­cal role in pro­tect­ing the Amer­i­can peo­ple, en­sur­ing the fair­ness and in­tegrity of our fi­nan­cial mar­kets and restor­ing the tra­di­tional mis­sions of the depart­ment.”

Ms. Monaco served as the prin­ci­pal as­so­ciate deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral, where she was the pri­mary ad­viser on crim­i­nal, na­tional se­cu­rity and civil mat­ters. Ms. Seitz worked as a part­ner in Sidley Austin LLP’s Wash­ing­ton of­fice, where she fo­cused on ap­pel­late lit­i­ga­tion be­fore the fed­eral ap­peals court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

James Cole

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