A key Republican said Wednesday that he plans to support Covington & Burling partner Eric Holder if President-elect Barack Obama nominates Holder as attorney general.
"I think Eric Holder has a reputation and an experience factor that is very much in his favor. I respect the man, and I intend to support him," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told reporters in the Capitol.
Hatch is a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and now its second-ranking Republican. His willingness to support Holder could signal a relatively easy confirmation process, barring new revelations about Holder's background.
Several Republicans have praised Holder while also promising a thorough hearing if he were nominated. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the GOP whip, said Wednesday that he has asked his staff to begin researching Holder's role in President Bill Clinton's pardons, including the one given to financier Marc Rich.
Hatch called the Rich pardon "one of the embarassments of the Clinton administration's aftermath." But, he added, "the president had an absolute right to do that."
"I'm not going to hold that against [Holder]," Hatch said.