WASHINGTON (CNN) - At a rare Justice Department event featuring a mix of smiling Democratic and Republican luminaries, Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday praised his GOP predecessor Michael Mukasey for "skill, honor, and great integrity" during his 15-month tenure.
Without mentioning the acrimony and bitter political battles that peaked during during two tumultuous years under then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who preceded Mukasey, Holder credited Mukasey for agreeing to take the job when "the Justice Department was engulfed in turmoil."
"I can say we are continuing the work you started to restore the Justice Department. You leave a mark here of patriotism, integrity and honor," Holder concluded.
Holder hosted the event at the ornate Great Hall to honor Mukasey with the traditional unveiling of the former attorney general's commissioned portrait, which will hang among the 81 past attorneys general outside Holder's office.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A coalition of progressive groups sought Monday to have 12 Bush administration lawyers disbarred for their roles in crafting the legal rationale for so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that many view as torture.
"It is time to hold these lawyers accountable for violating their legal oath," Kevin Zeese, an attorney for the coalition, said in a written statement.
"Just as the bar would suspend an attorney who advised a police officer to torture and brutalize a detained immigrant or criminal defendant, the bar must suspend these attorneys for advocating and causing the torture of war detainees. The disciplinary boards that hear these complaints must act or they will be seen as complicit in the use of torture."
Zeese called disbarment "an important step toward the ultimate accountability of criminal prosecution."
The group registered formal complaints against David Addington, John Ashcroft, Stephen Bradbury, Jay Bybee, Michael Chertoff, Douglas Feith, Alice Fisher, Timothy Flanigan, Alberto Gonzales, William Haynes II, Michael Mukasey, and John Yoo.
(CNN) - Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed while giving a speech Thursday evening. CNN had a camera rolling during the event, giving us an unusual look at what happened. I got a call in the middle of the night to come take a look. (Watch Video) Even doctors, while we read about diseases and see patients after they end up in the ER, we hardly ever witness things like this. I decided to blog about it this morning, hoping we might all learn something from seeing what happened to Mukasey.
During his speech, he seemed to have word-finding difficulties. He started to say a word, paused and repeated it. He then began to slur his words, and had a slight drooping of the right side of his face. After that, he slumped forward and passed out, requiring assistance to the ground. All of these events serve as clues as to what may have caused the problem in the first place.
(CNN) - U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed while giving a speech Thursday at the Federalist Society dinner at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington.
Mukasey, 67, was giving a spirited defense of the Bush administration's legal policies when his speech began to slur and he lost track of his thoughts about 30 minutes into his talk. Seconds later, he became rigid and then began to slump.
Mukasey was rushed to George Washington University Medical Center, said Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman.
"The attorney general is conscious, conversant and alert," said Carr. "His vital statistics are strong and he is in good spirits.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Friday rejected demands from key congressional leaders for information about the Justice Department's preliminary inquiry into the destruction of CIA tapes of detainee interrogations, saying to do so might be seen as bowing to "political influence."
In letters to the House and Senate Judiciary committees, he said he would not turn over the material they want nor would he appoint a special prosecutor to conduct the investigation, as some lawmakers had requested.
"At my confirmation hearing, I testified that I would act independently, resist political pressure and ensure that politics plays no role in cases brought by the Department of Justice. Consistent with that testimony, the facts will be followed wherever they lead in this inquiry and the relevant law applied," Mukasey said.
He sent a third similar letter to Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who had been the first to issue demands for information from the Justice Department.
"With regard to the suggestion that I appoint a special counsel, I am aware of no facts at present to suggest that department attorneys cannot conduct this inquiry in an impartial manner. If I become aware of information that leads me to a different conclusion, I will act on it," Mukasey said.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said he was "disappointed" by the decision and indicated a confrontation with the new attorney general will come early next year.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In his second day on the job, Attorney General Michael Mukasey leaped into the political fray, telling a key Democratic senator he opposes his electronic surveillance plan and would recommend the president veto it if it is passed.
In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on the eve of crucial committee votes to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Mukasey was adamant in opposing Leahy's plan for changing the law.
Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell co-signed the letter released Wednesday night by the Justice Department.
"We strongly oppose the proposed substitute amendment. If the substitute is part of a bill that is presented to the president, we and the president's other senior advisers will recommend that he veto the bill," they said.
Michael Mukasey will soon take over the helm of the Justice Department.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Retired federal judge Michael Mukasey will become Attorney General Mukasey on Friday afternoon, taking the oath of office without fanfare from a Justice Department official.
Officials said Mukasey was en route from New York to Washington at midday and was expected to go straight to his new Justice Department office to take the oath in private from Assistant Attorney General for Administration Lee Loftus.
Next week Mukasey will be formally sworn in at a public ceremony either at the White House or the Justice Department. No date has been announced.
Justice Department officials busily processing documents in advance of Mukasey's arrival said they expected the new attorney general to hold a series of closed meetings with senior officials Friday, including one dealing with classified matters to which Mukasey did not have access prior to his confirmation.
Giuliani praised friend Mukasey Friday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani praised newly confirmed Attorney General Michael Mukasey Friday, saying in a statement the former judge has "the leadership qualities that are needed to guide the department through this time of war."
"Michael has a long and distinguished career in public service as an Assistant United States Attorney and as a United States District Judge," the former New York City mayor said. "His 18-year career as United States District Judge was one of the most outstanding in the country and I am certain his tenure as Attorney General will be just as outstanding."
Giuliani and Mukasey are longtime friends, having first worked together more than 30 years ago in the New York City U.S. Attorney's office.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney
Waterboarding threatened to derail the approval of President Bush's nominee to lead the Justice Department.
(CNN) - After weeks of controversy over Michael Mukasey's views on waterboarding, the Senate late Thursday approved the former judge's nomination for attorney general by a 53-40 vote.
President Bush nominated Mukasey to replace longtime ally Alberto Gonzales, who resigned in September.
The nomination had been considered at risk after a number of Democratic senators opposed Mukasey because of questions that arose from his views on the terror interrogation technique known as waterboarding and the president's power to order electronic surveillance.
Michael Mukasey, left, talks with Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two Democratic senators said Friday they would vote for President Bush's nominee for attorney general, Michael Mukasey, hours after the chairman of the Judiciary Committee announced his opposition to the nominee.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Charles Schumer of New York announced they would support the retired federal judge from New York.
Feinstein and Schumer are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to vote on the Mukasey nomination Tuesday.