Ten prominent Republican lawyers, including former Attorney General William Barr, have signed a letter endorsing Eric Holder Jr. as the next head of the Justice Department, giving Holder some much-needed bipartisan support a week before his confirmation hearing.
“We are pleased to be able to write in support of Eric Holder, a man who stands with the most qualified who have been privileged to be nominated to be Attorney General of the United States,” reads the letter (pdf). It is dated Wednesday and was obtained by Legal Times.
“President-Elect Obama’s nomination of Eric as the historic appointment of our first African-American Attorney General should be hailed as a milestone,” it continues. “He is an extraordinary lawyer and an even better person. We would hope that Eric would be confirmed swiftly as a key component of the President’s National Security Team.”
Other signers of the letter include former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Joseph diGenova, former Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger III, and several former top GOP officials with the Justice Department and the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Holder’s hearing before the committee is scheduled for Jan. 15. Republican senators have questioned Holder’s independence from the Clinton White House while he was deputy attorney general, leading to anticipation of a difficult confirmation. Holder is still expected to win confirmation from the Senate’s enlarged Democratic majority.
The Republican lawyers' letter, which was sent to Judiciary Committee members, outlines Holder’s long résumé as a Justice Department prosecutor, D.C. Superior Court judge, U.S. attorney, No. 2 official at the Justice Department, and partner with Covington & Burling.
It also addresses whether Holder should be blamed for Clinton-era pardons, including the one given to fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.
“The short answer to any and all of these questions is that the power to issue a Presidential Pardon is a clear plenary power of any President. It is his or hers alone to execute and justify. A Presidential pardon is then unreviewable,” the letter says. “Virtually no one disputes that Eric was an outstanding Deputy Attorney General in every respect, President Clinton’s pardons notwithstanding.”