We’re going to liveblog the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for the nomination of Michael Mukasey as Attorney General. We don’t know how long we’ll do this; it will depend upon how interesting the proceedings are. And they might not be that interesting, since Mukasey’s confirmation isn’t really in doubt.
But who knows? Maybe there will be some interesting fireworks, as the Democrats try to use the hearings to score political points. Here we go.
10:03: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) calls the session to order. He warns that people who demonstrate within the hearing room with be thrown out. Good for him — those people are so annoying.
10:06: Senator Leahy reads his introductory remarks. He criticizes Alberto Gonzales’s tenure as Attorney General and pats himself on the back for having voted against Gonzales’s confirmation as AG.
10:16: Opening statement by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). Snazzy lime green tie. He mentions that he’ll have to step out during the hearings because of another hearing held by a committee where he is ranking member.
10:18: Sen. Leahy notes that the nominee will be introduced by Senator Lieberman, who was Judge Mukasey’s law school classmate, and Sen. Schumer.
10:19: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduces Judge Mukasey. Warm words. Senator Schumer’s admiration for Judge Mukasey, whom he floated once as a possible Supreme Court nominee, is well-known. But it’s still remarkable to see Chuck Schumer speaking so warmly about a Bush Administration nominee — in front of cameras, no less.
More after the jump.
10:22: Sen. Schumer compares Mukasey’s role now to that of Edward Levi, who took over the DOJ in the wake of the Watergate, and praises Jim Comey, Jack Goldsmith, and “even John Ashcroft” (based on the infamous hospital bed incident).
10:24: Sen. Leahy interrupts Sen. Schumer: “We have to take a break, because the Dalai Lama…. Are you going to be much longer?”
10:27: Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) recalls his time in law school with Judge Mukasey, who was quite a whiz even then. Judge Mukasey, by the way, is good at listening on camera (which isn’t as easy as it might seem).
“This is a man of the law, not a man of politics. It’s hard to think of a recent Attorney General who comes to the office with fewer political connections to the president nominating him than Michael Mukasey.”
Is that Judge Mukasey’s wife over Sen. Lieberman’s left shoulder? She was looking a bit zombie-like earlier, but now her face has regained expression. Don’t know about that lip gloss, though.
10:32: The nominee is sworn and begins his opening statement. Nice red-and-grey striped tie. Obligatory American flag pin on the lapel. Short-cropped silver hair, prominent ears, lips that look perpetually pursed.
His eyeglasses have the annoying effect, combined with the reflection from the hearing room lights, of obscuring his eyes (especially when he looks down at his notes).
10:37: Judge Mukasey sounds all the right notes in his opening statement. He pledges to work with the Committee going forward and thanks the members for their time and the advice they’ve been giving him over the past few weeks.
Back to Sen. Leahy, who starts the questioning. He asks about whether Judge Mukasey will go back to the “Red Book” — no, not the women’s magazine, but the collection of rules governing the bringing of charges in politically sensitive cases — which has been replaced by the “Green Book.”
Judge Mukasey doesn’t say anything definite, but just emphasizes that political considerations won’t come into play in charging decisions if he is confirmed as AG.
10:40: In response to questioning by Sen. Leahy, Judge Mukasey states that he will recuse himself from any matters involving his good friend, Rudy Giuliani.
10:43: Judge Mukasey is asked about the Bybee Memo, which he criticizes harshly. “The analysis in that memo was found to be defective.” Paraphrasing some French dude, he describes it as “worse than a sin — it was a mistake.”
He also declares that we don’t torture people,
not just because it’s wrong, but because it’s not effective in getting good information — something that liberals love to hear (and to say) abhorrent to American ideals.
[Ed. note: Corrected upon catching the rebroadcast. Sometimes when someone's talking, you think you know exactly what they're about to say, so you don't notice when they actually say something different.]
10:49: Hmm, we’re kinda bored. We’ll keep this on in the background, if we hear raised voices we might return to blogging about it. But we’re guessing that there won’t be much excitement, and we can read about the highlights in news stories later today.