The AP is reporting that OLC nominee Dawn Johnsen has withdrawn from consideration to head up the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.
The Senate Judiciary Committee had recommended her confirmation on party-line votes. But several Republicans objected to Johnsen's sharp criticisms of terrorist interrogation policies under President George W. Bush.
The full Senate never voted on her nomination.
Johnsen was cleared twice by the Judiciary Committee. The problematic opposition to her in the Senate resulted more from Democrat Ben Nelson, who had vowed to block her on the Senate floor because she had once served as a legal adviser for NARAL.
Sam Stein has statements from Johnsen and the White House.
"I am deeply honored that President Obama, the Attorney General and a strong majority of the U.S. Senate have demonstrated faith and confidence in my ability to lead the Office of Legal Counsel," Johnsen said in a statement asking for the withdrawal. "OLC plays a critical role in upholding the rule of law and must provide advice unvarnished by politics or partisan ambition. That was my guiding principle when I had the privilege to lead OLC in a past administration. Restoring OLC to its best nonpartisan traditions was my primary objective for my anticipated service in this administration. Unfortunately, my nomination has met with lengthy delays and political opposition that threaten that objective and prevent OLC from functioning at full strength. I hope that the withdrawal of my nomination will allow this important office to be filled promptly."
In a statement accompanying Johnsen's letter, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said her credentials were "exemplary and her commitment to the rule of law has been proven time and again."
"After years of politicization of the Office during the previous administration, the President believes it is time for the Senate to move beyond politics and allow the Office of Legal Counsel to serve the role it was intended to - to provide impartial legal advice and constitutional analysis to the executive branch," LaBolt added. "He will work now to identify a replacement and call on the Senate to move swiftly to confirm that nominee in order to achieve those goals."
I'm sure that this move from Johnsen and the White House will end the politicization of the position, and will make the Republicans and Ben Nelson so happy they'll just roll right over for the next Obama nominee.
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