Senate GOP prep for fight over Holder

Nov. 20, 2008 at 7:30 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Republicans say they're gearing up for a fight over the likely pick of Eric Holder as President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for attorney general.

"There are a lot of concerns among Senate GOP members about this selection, if indeed these rumors are true" that Obama tapped Holder as his choice, a senior staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee told the Los Angeles Times.

Holder, who was former President Bill Clinton's deputy attorney general, was involved in the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, who fled the United States just before the issuance of a criminal indictment in a huge tax fraud case.

The Republican staffer said senators and others on the judiciary panel were unhappy they weren't consulted by the Obama transition team to gauge their feelings about Holder.

"It's strange. No one has reached out to us, members or staff level, so we take this with a certain grain of skepticism," the staffer said.

A Democratic official close to the transition team said inquiries were made about Holder, but mostly among influential Democrats.

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said the Rich pardon concerned him, but he didn't intend to tie up Holder's confirmation over it.

"We're going to take a very, very close look at his record," especially Holder's role in the final days of the Clinton administration, Specter said on MSNBC, "with focus on the Marc Rich pardon, where there had been very, very large contributions" by his wife, Denise Rich.

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