Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ex-judge Mukasey now at top of list of Gonzales replacements

The AP is reporting that Michael Mukasey, a former U.S. district judge from New York who handled several high-profile terrorist cases and a current adviser to Rudy Guiliani’s presidential campaign, appears to be the administration’s top pick to replace Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General:
Conservatives on Saturday lined up for and against potential attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey, the man they believe has ascended to the top of President Bush’s list of replacements for Alberto Gonzales.

Earlier in the week, Democrats in the Senate threatened to block confirmation of another prospect — Theodore Olson, a longtime GOP ally and former solicitor general who represented Bush before the Supreme Court in the contested 2000 presidential election.

The behind-the-scenes battle over who will succeed Gonzales heated up over the weekend as the president, who was at Camp David, moved closer to announcing his choice.
I had previously been thinking that Olson's name may have been leaked in order to drum up the expected negative reaction from Democrats, only so Bush could nominate someone else (still a conservative) who'd look better by comparison and, thus, more easily confirmed. The article vaguely references possible opposition by groups on the right. And apparently, there is some early indicator of bi-partisan support:
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., previously recommended Mukasey for a Supreme Court vacancy.

In June 2005, the liberal Alliance for Justice put Mukasey’s name on a list of four judges who, if chosen for the Supreme Court, would show the president’s “commitment” to picking someone who could be supported by both Democratic and Republican senators.
But regardless of the nominee, Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy has vowed not to hold a confirmation hearing until the White House ceases withholding information subpoenaed by Democrats on U.S. attorneys and warrantless surveillance.

As for his record, Think Progress already has the skinny: While Mukasey issued the first ruling in the Jose Padilla saying “President Bush did have the authority to hold Mr. Padilla as an enemy combatant without charging him for a crime,” he also “ruled that the government must allow Mr. Padilla to see his attorneys.” However, in a recent WSJ editorial, he wrote that "terror trials hurt the nation even when they lead to a conviction."

Besides Mukasey and Olson, others being eyed for the post include former deputy attorney general George Terwilliger; 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William Wilkins; and former deputy attorney general Larry Thompson, who is currently general counsel at PepsiCo.

UPDATE: It's official.

UPDATE II: Glenn Greenwald has an encouraging post about the nomination.