Specter: Holder Could Be Another Gonzo

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It doesn’t get harsher than that.

In a floor speech today, Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary committee, suggested that Eric Holder, Barack Obama’s nominee for Attorney General, might follow in the footsteps of … Alberto Gonzales!

The Washington Independent reports that Specter cited several of the attacks that we’ve heard from GOPers since Holder’s nomination was announced — including the Al Gore “campaign finance violations” of 1996, the Elian Gonzalez case, and the last-minute pardon of Marc Rich.

Then Specter really hit below the belt, declaring:

After our recent experience with Attorney General Gonzales, it is imperative that the Attorney General undertake and effectuate that responsibility of independence. Mr. Gonzales left office accused of politicizing the Justice Department, failing to restrain Executive overreaching, and being less than forthcoming with Congress … I am convinced that many of Attorney General Gonzales’ missteps were caused by his eagerness to please the White House. Similarly, when Mr. Holder was serving as DAG to President Clinton, some of his actions raised concerns about his ability to maintain his independence from the president.

Specter concluded:

I am prepared to give Mr. Holder a full opportunity to explain his past actions and convince the Committee and the Senate that his record warrants confirmation.

As we noted last month, Specter has already tried to throw a hitch into the Holder nomination, ultimately prevailing on Judiciary chair Pat Leahy to postpone Holder’s confirmation hearings, citing the need to scrutinize Holder’s record — particularly on the Rich pardon — more closely.

But comparing Holder to Gonzales surely goes too far.

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