January 21st, 2009
02:25 PM ET
4 years ago

Bush holdover takes the reins, awaiting Holder confirmation

Mark Filip is a Bush holdover.

Mark Filip is a Bush holdover.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Acting Attorney General Mark Filip who served as Deputy Attorney General under former President Bush has taken the reigns at the Justice Department while awaiting the confirmation of Eric Holder.

A Senate committee is currently scheduled to consider Holder's nomination as Attorney General later Wednesday, but some Republicans on the panel have indicated they plan to seek a delay because of lingering questions about Holder's role as Deputy Attorney General during the Clinton Administration.

The balking Republican lawmakers have indicated they want additional answers from Holder, who appeared before the panel last Thursday. The threat of a delay prompted a strong reaction from Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT.

"It would look like a horrible double standard for those who enthusiastically voted unanimously for Alberto Gonzales to turn down the first African-American, or hold up the first African American to be Attorney General," Leahy said.

Some GOP congressional aides have privately pointed to Democratic opposition to the more recent nomination of retired judge Michael Mukasey, whose nomination was saved only by a dramatic break with Leahy by Democratic Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California.

Democrats uniformly support the Holder nomination, and have the needed votes to pass the nomination, but rules may allow Republican objections to delay the proceedings.

Meanwhile, Filip and a cadre of career lawyers kept a low profile as they ran the wide-ranging functions of the dozens of Justice Department Divisions and Offices Wednesday.

Only the Acting Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division issued a public statement. Loretta King vowed the Department would continue to prosecute police who harm inmates.

King cited a jury conviction last week of a former Florida State Prison official who poured scalding water on a prisoner to punish him for feigning injury and lying on his jail cell floor. Paul Tillis was found guilty of pouring near scalding water on the victim's chest and then failing to arrange medical treatment for the second degree burns which resulted from his actions.

"While the vast majority of law enforcement officers carry out their in a lawful and professional manner, the "Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who cross the line and commit this type of unlawful act," King said.

The former prison official faces up to ten years in prison and $250,000 fine.

Filed under: Justice Department
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. mary dale

    Of course the Republicans will continue to obstruct government just like they have the past 2 years. Hopefully the media will note this and the voters will pay attention to those who purposely stop government for no good reason. Going back to the early 90's actions seems a bit of a stretch to refuse to seat the Presidents choice. Similarly, Cornyn (i think) stopping Hillary's appointment just because he can seems very petty and hopefully transparent to the voters of his state.

    January 21, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. scott

    The Republican leadership should think very carefully about their normal practice of placing obstacles in the path of reasonable policies/appointments.

    It seems possible that Eric Holder's frank willingness to make clear pronouncements - e.g., that 'waterboarding is torture' - is 'rude' in GOP circles - suggesting, as it does, that past violators of law might just be held accountable.

    Seems about time.

    January 21, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. Debby, NJ

    This is the exact reason why the Republicans lost their seats...2010 is fast approaching...why does he have to answer for anything regarding the Clinton era?

    January 21, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. bill

    It's "reins," not reigns.

    January 21, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. gl, Pittsburgh

    Republicans are such mean people. Most Americans would like to move on.

    January 21, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  6. Amber

    Next election is 2 years away, Republicans. Unlike what El Rushbaugh told you this morning, you aren't going to get pats on the back for "stickin it to the Clintons".

    Keep obstructing, and the American voters will relegate you to the dustbin of history for decades. If you want your party competition to go from Democrats to Libertarian and Reform, keep it up.

    One seat.

    January 21, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  7. Nola

    It appears that the Republicans did not listen to President Obama's speech yesterday – especially, the part about doing away with "childish things".

    Today is a new DAY and we the people, the voters that removed a large number of Republicans from office, do not expect nor do we want the same childish behavior from a group of supposely adults. The Republicans have for the past eight year allowed the Department of Justice to became the laughing stock of the country -and now someone has been nominated that the people in that department as well as 3/4 of the legal organizations respects these little brats want to play games.

    January 21, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. Sharon Kitchen

    The Chairman is RIGHT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    So.....................the rep...........don't want to work together as usual...................................thanks ,but No Thanks.

    They WILL NOT spoil ,the others who will.

    January 21, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. Kevin in Ohio

    All that Leahy can come up with is that the Republicans are blocking an African-American from becoming AG.... playing the race card......AGAIN. I'm getting sick of this, and where were all the complaints about the obstructions the dems put forth?

    January 21, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  10. Tina

    I think CNN means "reins", not "reigns".

    January 21, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. Nick

    Practically everyone agrees the Rich pardon was a corrupt act. And Holder was right in the middle of it. And some Senator has the temerity to want to ask a few questions about it. Right. Clearly racism is the only explanation. Let me check Senator Leahy off the list of politicians I take seriously.

    January 21, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. oh no

    Kevin, although I don't agree with the holdup, I do agree with the race card scenerio which you point out...

    January 21, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. tim

    The current Attorney General should take this time to release the
    Rezko tapes.

    January 21, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  14. Michael

    To validate any transparency, you have to use the knowledge you have and take action. We should find out who is "obstructing" or acting "childish" and inundate their offices with calls and emails. Hold them to account. Call them out publicly. Then let the media know that the citizens are reacting because they see what's going on and have had enough of it. As our new President urges, the time for action is now ... Shall we start with Cornyn?.

    January 21, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. Bud in NC

    Looks like the Repubs are slow learners. They got trounced in the last two elections for doing what they are doing now. Keep it up guys. Another election coming in two years. You are going the way of the dinasaurs.

    January 21, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. Mia and Mike

    I can't wait until 2010. The Republicans better wise up to the fact that we the American people are wholehearterdly ready for change, and they seem to be totally against it. We have the power to vote them out if they want to behave like sore losing, spoiled brats. We are sick and tired of our rights, freedoms, hopes and wishes being pushed to the side so that our so-called law-makers can get payback. Did they not listen to what Obama said today at the swearing in of his new staff? Decisions and actions shall be made for the good of the people. This postponement is not for the good of the people- it's for personal favors for the outgoing administration. If it appears they may have commited a crime, it is the AG duty to investigate. If they are not guilty, so be it, but if they are guilty- you do the crime, you pay the time. It's as simple as that and beyond me how they can do such a thing with a petty and childish explanation.

    January 21, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  17. Stephen, Missouri

    We the people should demand better. It is more than obvious that Republicans were not listening to Obama...they still keep childish things...a guy holds Hllary for a day only to vote for her...what was the point???? They spent the whole morning debating a none issue since in the end she was confirmed...I guess Republicans have a lot of time to waste while the country is suffering....

    2010 is coming and they better get on with the program or they will be voted out...we need a new generation of lawmakers that are pragmatic and can handle multiple tasks at the same time...by the way McCain and Graham were magnificent for Hillary...they have gotten the message and they know how to move on.

    January 21, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. Richard Nelson

    Leahy did not play the race card- he played the whole deck. As usual.

    January 21, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  19. gjdagis

    I just wish they could postpone the confirmation of this NUT forever !

    January 21, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. EBC

    Is it me or does this fool look like a FATTER and YOUNGER version George W. Bush?

    This is why we need to REPLACE this fool.

    January 21, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  21. jh north carolina

    Dems love to play the race card and try to keep the public distracted with that and not focus on the issues. Many of the commentors have played right into that hand.

    The issue is that Eric Holder approved a recommendation to former pres clinton to pardon a felony fleer. Do these commentors believe that there is no consequence for one's actions? Yes, poor decisions do come back to haunt you.

    January 21, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  22. Sammy Osburn

    It's a stupid play of the race card for Mr.Leahy to challenge the ones who have doubts about Eric Holder (justifiably so) when he says "they are holding up the first African American for Attorney General". I hope we aren't going to hear this crap for the next 4 or 8 years....blah, blah, blah...you can't challenge on the issues if there is a black person in the mix ?

    January 21, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. Mike

    the man looks like a chipmunk !

    January 21, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  24. Simmy

    Kevin in Ohio,

    Reality still bites doesn't it? This is the 21st century, but many like you, are still stuck in the era of the Civil War. Change is going to change a lot of old concepts. Join US.

    January 21, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  25. Randall Carmeans

    I love how every single poster speaks for "most Americans". Every presidential election is within percentage points of being a tie. Even with this very bad showing by the Republican presidential candidate, there were only six million votes seperating the candidates out of over 100 million cast . Please stick to YOUR opinion and stop speaking for me and "most Americans".

    January 21, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
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