Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Reid will move to block Olson if AG nominee

Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that Senate Democrats will block Ted Olson from succeeding Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General if President Bush nominates him:
"He's a partisan, and the last thing we need as an attorney general is a partisan," Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told Reuters in a brief hallway interview on Capitol Hill...

"Ted Olson will not be confirmed," Reid, D-Nev., said in a written statement. "I intend to do everything I can to prevent him from being confirmed as the next attorney general."

The comment gave weight to Republican warnings that Olson, a former solicitor general, would face brutal confirmation hearings and that the White House can't afford a fight now over who will head the troubled federal law enforcement agency.

"It would be unfortunate to nominate someone who can't be confirmed," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said earlier in the day.
Ted Olson was Assistant Attorney General for President Reagan and defended him during the Iran-Contra affair. He was nominated to the Office of Solicitor General by President Bush in 2001 and was barely confirmed by the United States Senate, 51-47, after a long confirmation battle. He left in 2004 and was replaced by Paul Clement who is the current acting attorney general.

Olson would be a overtly partisan and spiteful pick. He was part of the infamous "Arkansas Project" which aimed to damage and end the presidency of Bill Clinton and represented Paula Jones in her sex harassment suit against President Clinton. In 2000, he represented George Bush in the Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore, in which the Supreme Court handed Bush the presidency in a partisan, 5-4 decision.

Back in 2001, just two Democrats, Sens. Ben Nelson and the now departed Zell Miller, voted in favor of him as solicitor general. Democrats now control the Senate 51-49. But even if a few Democrats (or Lieberman) backed Olson, Reid could force a cloture vote and raise the same procedural roadblock requiring 60 votes that Republicans have used a lot this year to block Democratic legislation. So it seems pretty unlikely Olson would survive a confirmation battle, and that's if his nomination event gets voted out of committee.

Olson has apparently emerged as the favorite, but Bush has not yet made the final decision. Other possibilities include federal appeals Judge Laurence Silberman, former Deputy Attorneys General George Terwilliger III and Larry Thompson, and Paul Clement, the current solicitor general - all of whom stand a better chance of being confirmed. But if Bush doesn't nominate Olson, it will be because Senate Democrats oppose him.


Xanthippas said...

Well done on their part. I'm glad the opposition is so firm. A partian is the last thing the Justice Dept needs, as the Bush administration has demonstrated an incredible inability to pick someone qualified and with integrity to run the place.

adam said...

I'm worried it might be a bait and switch though. This has been "leaked" for a week, so why haven't they made it official yet? To test Democratic reaction? Or perhaps they knew Dems would come out strongly if they hinted at a Olson nom, so they can then nominate one of the other candidates whom would look better by comparison.

Xanthippas said...

Hmmm...that's a possibility. I don't know though; in listening to news coverage I've gotten the impression that Olsen is fairly well respected among conservatives, so who could they come up with that would look better than him who wasn't partisan? I don't know.