The Republican Party and the conservative movement are terrified by Eric Holder and stopping Holder has become a matter of self-preservation for the Party of Failure. They are afraid that an active, engaged and independent DOJ will actually investigate political corruption, torture and the other crimes of their recent years in power. If ongoing investigations (like the Abramoff scandal) are freed from political restraints, many current and former elected Republicans, their staffers, funders and lobbyists could find themselves under indictment.
Holder will be an excellent Attorney General and so, they fear him. He needs our support and we need to push back on this latest Republican effort to obstruct justice.
Within minutes, the GOP announced they would block Holder’s confirmation for at least a week.
There is a link.
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The Attorney General of the United States is appointed by the President. He or she serves at the pleasure of the President, but they are not supposed to be beholden to the President. They are supposed to be independent. The Attorney General is the People’s Lawyer and the guardian of the rule of law. It is a position with a sacred trust, and the Attorney General must have a deep commitment to the law, the people and the Constitution.
For the last eight years this sacred trust has been perverted. Bush and Cheney led the way. Ashcroft, Gonzales and Mukasey each helped to pervert the rule of law and debase the Department of Justice. Throughout the Bush years, the DOJ and our laws became a tool the Right would use in their effort to establish one-Party rule in the United States. It was a bold and almost successful coup d’état. And a Republican controlled Congress gave this parade of Constitutional destruction the right-of-way. Protecting this destruction of our Constitution and laws were men like Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and the rest of his Republican caucus. Their blind eye to the corruption of the Bush years makes their attack on the nomination of Eric Holder drip with hypocrisy and fear. They deserve a strong counter-attack as they work over-time to deny America an Attorney General who will finally put the Constitution and the People above President and Party.
Eric Holder will be a great Attorney General. He has independence and integrity coupled with a devotion to the law, the Department of Justice and the Constitution. He is a long-time fighter of corruption in Government and has aggressively prosecuted members of both Parties. He began his career over thirty years ago with a twelve-year stint in the Public Integrity Section of the DOJ. I suspect that he will be appalled at how politicized the PI Section and the entire DOJ has become under Republican misrule. I trust that he will get out a big broom and clean house.
He should already be confirmed. He should already be at work. The Country can not wait another week for justice, honor and integrity to return to the Department of Justice. And yet, we are forced to wait. Why? Simple, the Republican Party is desperately afraid that Holder will do his job. They fear that aggressive investigations into political corruption will expose their wrongdoing. So they panic in the hope that somehow, someway they will be able to stop him.
As I’ve written before, this attack is being led by Senator Arlen Specter who is in the middle of his predictable sexennial molting of integrity, independence and values as he dances to the tune of the conservative bosses of his party. Every six years, Arlen caves into their whims in the hopes that they will support his re-election. This time out, Karl and the gang want Specter to take the lead in attacking Eric Holder. It is a task that Specter embraces with all the slime and hypocrisy that he can muster. (And when it comes to slime and hypocrisy, Arlen Specter is an experienced ninja of the dark arts).
It was looking like Specter was out on the branch all alone. It was looking like his effort was failing and that the not-too-subtle undercurrent of racism woven into right-wing attacks on Eric Holder were beginning to damage Specter and his Party. It looked like the Republican Party had realized that fighting the first African-American Attorney General with nothing more than Clinton hatred, lies, innuendo and racist dog whistles was a losing strategy.
And then President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order on Presidential Records. For Republican Corruptionists, this was the last straw. It came on the heels of a long line of statements and comments by the new President about the power his Attorney General would have when it comes to looking into past misdeeds. For example, on January 11, 2009 the President told George Stephanopoulos that the decision to launch an investigation into torture and other Bush war crimes would be left to his Attorney General (emphasis added):
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, let me just press that one more time. You're not ruling out prosecution, but will you tell your Justice Department to investigate these cases and follow the evidence wherever it leads?
OBAMA: What I -- I think my general view when it comes to my attorney general is he is the people's lawyer. Eric Holder's been nominated. His job is to uphold the Constitution and look after the interests of the American people, not to be swayed by my day-to-day politics. So, ultimately, he's going to be making some calls, but my general belief is that when it comes to national security, what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future, as opposed looking at what we got wrong in the past.
That got quite a few folks in the GOP pretty nervous. And the testimony of Eric Holder during his confirmation hearing did not calmed their nerves. In his testimony, Holder clearly said that water-boarding was torture and he refused to say that those who engaged in torture, or authorized it, should be granted automatic immunity from prosecution.
This is troubling to loyal Bushies and members of the Conservative moral failure caucus. Still, they had an Ace up their sleeve to ensure that evidence of their wrongdoing would never see the light of day. They had Executive Privilege. Holder could become Attorney General, but the records of the Bush/Cheney years would be sealed for decades at the National Archives under a big, fat Executive Privilege stamp.
Then yesterday it all came crashing down. At 1:22 pm EST that safeguard of Executive Privilege turned out to be rooted in magical thinking. Their imagined protection from the law vanished as President Barack Obama announced an Executive Order on Presidential Records.
These words from President Obama must have sent cell phones and PDAs buzzing from Washington to Texas to Wyoming (emphasis added):
"I will also hold myself as President to a new standard of openness. Going forward, anytime the American people want to know something that I or a former President wants to withhold, we will have to consult with the and the White House Counsel, whose business it is to ensure compliance with the rule of law. Information will not be withheld just because I say so. It will be withheld because a separate authority believes my request is well grounded in the Constitution.
Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."
The Republican reaction was fast. At 2:30 the Senate’s Judiciary Committee was schedule to vote on Eric Holder’s nomination. Within a half hour of Obama’s announcement that the Attorney General would have a say in how claims of Executive Privilege by George W. Bush would be resolved, the GOP announce that they would block Holder’s confirmation for at least a week and possibly longer.
Of course Arlen Specter is still there carrying water for the criminals of the Bush years, but a new Champion of Corruption has danced into the spotlight. That would be "Big John" Cornyn of Texas who led the effort to delay the confirmation of Eric Holder. The stated reason was Cornyn’s concern that those responsible for approving and executing war crimes, like torture might, just might, be investigated and—if the evidence proves that a crime was committed—prosecuted. That is the stated reason, but the crimes of the Bush years go far deeper than violations of the Geneva Conventions and war crimes. There are more mundane crimes as well. Graft, bribery, pay for play, abuse of power, vote rigging, partisan prosecutions (remember Don Siegelman) and many others.
One of these Republican crime sprees is the Abramoff Scandal. Turns out that Jack Abramoff had operatives working for him and the Republican Party in the DOJ. Last year, one of them, Robert Coughlin plead guilty to helping Abramoff and his fellow corruptionists commit their crimes from his position within the DOJ. There could be more. The Baltimore office of the US Attorney had to be brought in to investigate Bush appointees in the DC office of the DOJ where Coughlin used to work. That investigation is still very active. And then there are the many ties between Jack Abramoff and John Ashcroft that have yet to bubble up into a news cycle. The ongoing Abramoff scandal is just one example of a corruption investigation slow-walked by the Bush DOJ. That Eric Holder might be willing to accelerate this and other investigations to actively fight the Culture of Corruption in Washington might be very worrisome to certain Republicans. One Senator who has some cause to worry about a more aggressive DOJ investigating political corruption is "Big John" Cornyn of Texas.
According to recent DOJ Court filings in Abramoff related scandal cases the DOJ has a vault filled with millions of Abramoff related emails. As well as millions of other pages of related documents (billing records, interviews, financial records and the like). One name that is certainly frequently mentioned in these documents is John Cornyn. Before he became a US Senator, he was a member of the Supreme Court of Texas. In that role he helped Jack run a few scams on some Native American Tribes and supported the effort by Tom DeLay to take over the Texas Legislature in 2002 and then draw new Republican slanted Congressional Districts in mid-decade. If the Bush documents about torture could be release, then the Abramoff related documents of the Bush White House could be released as well. And an investigation into that scandal trail could put Big John in the Big House.
No wonder he is fighting Holder like his freedom depends on it. It might.
There is a lot of discussion on this site and others about the need to investigate and expose the crimes of the Bush Years. I, like many others, feel that something must be done. The Republican Party through Specter, Cornyn and other corruptionist stooges is trying to extract a commitment that all Bush era crimes will be swept under the rug as the price for Eric Holder’s confirmation. They might get away with this if we let them.
We can not let that happen.
We need to make some noise and get Eric Holder’s back. We need to let the GOP know that there is a price to pay for obstructing this appointment.
Perhaps a fund could be started on Act Blue specifically to defeat Arlen Specter. Perhaps we could make the Republican protection of torture, Abramoff and corruption an issue. Perhaps we could point out the racist undertones and dog whistles of their empty attacks on our Nation’s first African-American Attorney General. Perhaps we could point out the hypocrisy of their opposition to Holder after they supported Ashcroft, Gonzales and Mukasey. Perhaps there are other ways to fight back as well.
Whatever you can do—please do it. We have the power to push a pro-corruption frame onto the GOP and their opposition to Holder. We should be able to extract a price for delaying the Holder confirmation vote.
The time to fight is now. We can not let them extract a commitment to give the crimes of the Bush years a free pass as a devil’s bargain to get Eric Holder confirmed as Attorney General. He needs to be the People’s Lawyer. He needs to always feel that is his duty to expose corruption and root it out regardless of where it goes and regardless of Party. This is an obligation that Cornyn, Specter and the Republican Party seek to destroy. It is what they fear.
The Right-wing nut jobs are testing us with the Holder Nomination. It is time to smack them and knock them back. It is time to smack them hard. It is time to send them slinking back to their caves. It is time to finally return the rule of law to the Department of Justice.
It is way past time to confirm Eric Holder.
We need him on the job.