March 22nd, 2010
08:16 PM ET
13 years ago

Holder, Senate Republicans showdown abruptly postponed

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Eric Holder's showdown with GOP lawmakers has been postponed."]Washington (CNN) - Attorney General Eric Holder finally sent his answers from a November hearing to Senate Republicans Monday, on what was presumed to be the eve of an expected showdown between Holder and the GOP lawmakers over plans to close Guantanamo Bay prison and put detainees on trial in civilian courts.

But while Holder, his aides and Republican lawmakers were separately intently planning for the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Democrats were fretting about potentially missing the White House party to celebrate passage of a health care bill, aides acknowledged.

Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, postponed the hearing late Monday to the consternation of both the Justice Department and the GOP. Holder is out of town on travel the rest of this week, and Congress is out the following week, so no new hearing date is scheduled.

The last-minute delivery of Justice Department responses to questions asked by the Republicans more than four months ago appeared to fuel an already agitated group of senators from the staunchly partisan Senate judiciary panel. GOP staff members were scrambling to go through the documents in advance of what they expected would be Holder's scheduled 9:30 a.m. appearance before the committee.

If the hearing had taken place, it would have marked Holder's first appearance before the Senate panel since November, a few days after he proclaimed his decision to try the alleged 9/11 conspirators in New York City. Holder told the committee he had the full backing of New York political leaders, and insisted a civilian trial near the site of the 9/11 attacks was the right thing to do.

Since then, however, the attempted Christmas Day airliner bombing and collapse of New York support for a New York City trial have left Holder and the Obama administration struggling for a solution to detainee issues. White House sources have indicated the president, not Holder, will make the final decision on where to try accused 9/11-mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and it will most likely be in a military court.

Republican sources say the minority side was prepared to bombard Holder with what they see as inconsistencies and errors. They said Justice Department officials acknowledged in Monday's last-minute dump of documents that they can not provide the details to back their assertion that 300 terrorists have been successfully tried in civilian courts.

Republicans also prepared to attack Holder on other fronts, including his failure to disclose seven legal briefs he had written in support of positions in federal court cases.

Holder last week told a House budget committee he expects a decision on the Khaled Sheik Mohammad trial to be made within "a few weeks". He had not been expected to provide any new information on the status of the decision. With the hearing postponed for weeks, the decision on the 9/11 trial could precede Holder's delayed appearance.

Filed under: Eric Holder • Justice Department
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. so rich even obama couldn't hurt me but you middle class folk should worry

    instead of the meeting they decided to RELEASE the HIGHEST value target from Gitmo!!! unreal, these people ARE really so transparent ill give them that, they have hated this country their whole life and the ignorant elected them. wow terrorist sympathizers in the white house! how quick we forget! this hit recruited the 9/11 highjackers and is going home! wow I would think you would get in a lil trouble for that no??? tortured really? do you scum liberals remember those planes do you remember those who died, and you care how this guy was treated? my only question is why is he still alive, never mind being let free????? once again I hate you mr president!

    March 22, 2010 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  2. frank in Valparaiso

    Screw the GOP. Its time to close Gitmo. Put those clowns in a Federal trial, get them in a Super Max. Federals have 100% conviction rate, GOP wants to use the mickey mouse military tribunals? With a 30% conviction rate, what a bunch of idiots. Time to get rid of all the political hacks, they have ruined this country under Bush.

    March 22, 2010 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    When will we see the results of the FBI investigation into all the shady dealings of sen. ensign? I hope it drags out until he is running for re-election and he has to do the perp walk in cuffs at one of his hate rallies.

    March 22, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  4. Save 'em in the womb, so a "christian" holy war can send 'em to the tomb

    More whining from the Reds, guess you forgot your in the MINORITY and you do not get to make the rules or set the schedules!!

    I just which Holder had stuck his head in and yelled "war mongers"!

    March 22, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  5. Denna

    Party on Democrats and enjoy your victory. I'm sure the Republiklans will come along and stick a pin in it. I can't wait to see how they handle immigration reform. After all, they want the Hispanic vote and there are a lot of LEGAL IMMIGRANTS in America. Tread lightly, Rethugs, treat lightly.

    March 22, 2010 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  6. diridi

    GOP idiots do know nothing...sorry

    March 22, 2010 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  7. Mike Smith

    "...Holder is out of town on travel the rest of this week..."

    Well, then it can't have been such a surprise, can it? Or put another way: what is he doing out of town when such an important hearing is looming? Something doesn't add up here and CNN seems to be asleep at the wheel...

    March 22, 2010 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  8. Ancient Texan

    Good riddence of an illegal corrupt organization.

    March 22, 2010 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  9. Kirsten

    So basically the Democrats were more concerned about a party than they were with where we're going to house terrorists. Yeah, that sounds like the Democrats. And people wonder why Obama's ratings are dropping....

    March 22, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  10. Kirsten

    So basically the Democrats were more concerned about a party than they were with where we're going to house terrorists. Yeah, that sounds like the Democrats. And people wonder why Obama's ratings are dropping....seriously?

    March 22, 2010 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  11. jules sand-perkins

    Holder, like most of Obama's gang, is full of it and being found out.

    March 22, 2010 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  12. Danny J

    I thought the Obama administration said they can walk and chew gum at the same time.

    March 22, 2010 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  13. The Unsub

    Angry, old, rich, white men who can't handle the fact that they are not in power anymore. Nothing they fear more than Pelosi (a powerful woman) and Obama (a powerful Black man).

    March 22, 2010 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  14. Illinoistom

    Surprise, surprise! Senate Democrats are planning to party, Holder is out of town, and the hard questions go unanswered. Unless you watch networks other than CNN, you don't know that Atta's recruiter just won his Habeas plea and must be released. If that happens to detainees after they are transferred to Thomson, IL, any guesses where they are released to? The answer is they can roam our country at will if the Court determines they "may" face persecution in their home country. Thanks for all the "Hope and Change."

    March 22, 2010 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  15. Gil

    Keep Gitmo open if we can fill it full of republicans and teabuggers!

    March 22, 2010 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  16. Gary

    Party hardy! Ya'll made it happen! Thank you!

    March 22, 2010 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  17. HC Bill Raises Taxes by over 5%

    HOLDER is a loser, corrupt lackee of OBOZO

    March 22, 2010 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  18. Tim

    What a joke these democrats are. They partied under Clinton and we paid for it under Bush. Now their partying under Obama and we will pay for it under the next Republican President in 2012.

    March 22, 2010 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  19. HypocriCNNstigators!

    Attorney General Eric Holder Is No Pushover Like Some People In The Republican Party Think He Is.

    March 22, 2010 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  20. American Citizen

    What a coward!

    March 22, 2010 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  21. valwayne

    The man who enabled the most corrupt pardon in U.S. history has engaged in enough insanity on behalf of the nation for a lifetime. Billion dollars circus trials in NYC for the murdering terrorists that planned 9/11, reading the underwear bomber his right to be silent 50 minutes after he got off the plan instead of interrogating him, and the flying his relatives to the U.S. first class a month later to beg him to talk to us, filling the halls of the justice dept with dozens of radical left wing lawyers who defended murdering terrorists and may sympathize with them. Holder should be fired!

    March 22, 2010 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  22. Preston kathy

    the gop is so mad at loseing the health care vote let the spoiled brats wait let them wait and cool down

    March 23, 2010 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  23. Michael from Ventura

    Senate republicans need to be put in their place----out to pasture.

    March 23, 2010 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  24. John from Brooklyn

    Evidence once again that Republicans are both the foes of healthcare for all Americans....but due process of law for anyone they deem unworthy of constitutional protection simply becuase they are accused of terrible crimes. Sad how quickly the Republicans sell out our Constittion.

    March 23, 2010 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  25. MonasteryMonkey

    This will all become moot once the president announces his decision to have KSM tried in a military court.

    President Obama continues to be one step ahead of the GOP clods on Capitol Hill.

    March 23, 2010 01:13 am at 1:13 am |