The confirmation hearings for Eric Holder as attorney general just started.
We’ll try to keep an eye on it for you and update you with interesting news and notes. Especially when the Specter in the punch bowl speaks up.
So far Holder has said the word “independent” twice and now we’re going through the list of black people who were shot in the sixties.
Update (10:31): Let me paraphrase question 1:
LEAHY: Waterboarding mutherf***** do you believe in it?
HOLDER: Waterboarding is torture.
LEAHY: Gonzales! Are you named GONZALES?
HOLDER: Waterboarding is torture.
Update (10:56): Round 1 of Specter v. Holder involved both fighters feeling each other out. Lots of clenching, no haymakers:
SPECTER: Let me remind everybody who Marc Rich is and why he’s a terrible person.
(time passes, seasons change …)
Mr. Holder, did you know about this?
HOLDER: Nope. My bad.
Score the round 10-10.
Meanhwhile Sen. Herbet Kohl (who also owns the Milwaukee Bucks) wants to know if Holder can ball with Obama. As commenter #5 might point out “that question would never have been asked if Holder was white.”
More updates after the jump.
Update (11:56): Great questions from Orrin Hatch.
HATCH: I like you, I’m inclined to support you. But you’ve been running your mouth a lot about warrantless wiretaps.
HOLDER: Nobody is above the law … and … the President’s power is great when he acts with Congress … also, I like facts.
HATCH: So you think it’s illegal?
HOLDER: You know, there are checks, and there are balances, and see, you kind of have to balance all the checks and all the balances together.
Hatch came prepared. Now he’s essentially asking Holder if he will try to prosecute Bush administration officials. Holder is saying “no one is above the law” for the 5th time today. It appears that Holder has been forced into a definitive “Ummmm.”
Update (12:15): Wow. Sen. Jeff Sessions just compared Alberto Gonzales to Janet Reno. Then he asked Holder if he would uphold the Constitution. Holder said: “Ever put your life in a man’s hands or asked him to put his life in yours? We follow orders, son. We follow orders or people die. It’s that simple. Are we clear?”
Update (12:51): If Schumer hit Wall Street like he just slammed Gonzales, it would be a sight to see.
CHUCKIE: I’d like to start by saying how much I hate Alberto Gonzales. If I were dying and Alberto Gonzales was the only person in the world that could save my life, my one wish would be to mortally wound Alberto Gonzales. He’s a terrible human being and I have spent a lot of time and money constructing a fleet of “terminators” that I will soon be sending back in time to kill either his mother, Gonzales as a boy, or Gonzales as a young adult. Mr. Holder, if confirmed will you kill Alberto Gonzales?
CHUCKIE: Will you maim or poison Alberto Gonzales?
CHUCKIE: Mr. Holder, you are a far better man than any member of the opposition party I’ve ever met. Once you take control of the KGB, I will be sending you many lists.
LEAHY: We will now take a short recess so the distinguished gentleman from New York can take his medication.
Update (2:42): I’m not entirely sure if Lindsey Graham knows he’s questioning the AG nominee, because he sounds like he’s questioning the Secretary of Defense.
GRAHAM: Are we at war?
GRAHAM: Do we have the high ground?
HOLDER: Well, there are lots of ways to answer that question.
GRAHAM: The moon, is that high ground?
GRAHAM: If we captured somebody on the moon, would that be a warrior or a criminal?
GRAHAM: Do you know a Mauser rifle from a javelin?
HOLDER: Yes! And I can whistle Pinafore!
GRAHAM: You have my vote.
Update (3:05): This is great. If you can only go back and see one moment from these hearings, go to the Sen. Cornyn bit. It’s must-see T.V.
So Cornyn basically put Holder in the middle of an episode of 24 and asked if Holder would use waterboarding if it was the only way to save the lives of tens of thousands of Americans. And Holder went into full lawyer “I do not accept the premise of your question” mode. Holder said that he didn’t think waterboarding would be the only way to get the needed information, and otherwise waterboarding doesn’t work.
Cornyn came back with the “but what if it was the only option?” Holder said that it wasn’t the only option. Cornyn said that we waterboard our own soldiers as part of their training. Holder explained that we do that to expose them to what “less civilized nations” might do to them. Cornyn returned Holder to his Jack Bauer hypothetical, and Holder laughed! Then Holder said that his knowledge of other techniques prevented him from accepting the premise of Cornyn’s question.
Great, great stuff by both participants.
Update (3:20): Holder tells Dick Durbin that he won’t go back and fire all of the people Bradley Schlozman did hire for the Civil Rights Division.
Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Coburn wanted to know if Holder would defend the 2nd Amendment. Shockingly, it appears that Holder has in fact read the Constitution.
Update (3:40): Sam Brownback (Kansas) wants Holder to know that Gitmo detainees are not welcome at Fort Leavenworth (Kansas).
He also wants Holder to apply the American with Disasbilities Act before birth.
Holder dodged both questions.
DEM SEN. WHO HASN’T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION: Sorry Mr. Holder, I’ve been attending to very important matters concerning my own committee. I just want to ask you, how did you become so awesome? I’m just so happy to be in power I can barely contain myself. Oh, and could you say something particularly interesting so Olbermann puts me on T.V. tonight? Thanks. You’re awesome.
REP SEN. WHO HASN’T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION: Sorry Mr. Holder, I’ve been attending to very important matters concerning my own committee. I just want to ask you, why the hell did you pardon Mark Rich? I know you’ve apologized and you know I’m pretty much going to have to vote for your confirmation, but I’m hoping that Fox News uses my version of this question tonight.
Update (4:54): Herbert Kohl wants Holder to more aggressively pursue antitrust violations. Yeah, because monopolies allow companies to put artificial ceilings on salaries and while charging consumers whatever they want.
Update (5:13): I think Chuck Grassley just asked a 17 part question in under two minutes. Holder’s wife looks like she’s thinking of ways to kill herself. Holder himself looks nonplussed.
Update (5:23): Oooh. Sen. Jon Kyl has internet gambling questions. Sadly, both he and Holder seem to think it is “illegal” and “pernicious.” Boo.
Update (5:43): Coburn found a way to mention Blago. But he couldn’t tie it to the rights of gun owners so his heart wasn’t really into it. Instead, he was much more disturbed that war veterans who’ve been deemed mentally incompetent can’t own guns.
Update (5:54): Wow, Specter and Leahy just spent 5 minutes arguing about how much more time they were going to have to ask Holder more questions. To quote Josh Lyman “I’m so sick of Congress I could vomit.” Thanks for reading, if anything super newsworthy happens we’ll pick it up in the morning.