Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hearing is about to start. I’ll live-blog it for a few hours at least. I’ll keep the most recent entries at the top for those who want to keep up with the blow-by-blow. Others should read from the bottom up.
11:15 Dianne Feinstein is now doing the questioning. Time for a bathroom break.
11:14 Hatch said he hopes he’ll be able to vote to confirm Lynch. I hope he won’t, but after hearing his questioning, fear he will.
11:08 Hatch notes that in a speech Lynch favored not applying mandatory minimum sentences to certain crimes. What about that, Hatch wants to know? It’s a matter of prioritizing, she says. In other words, the executive branch can blow off statutory minimums.
11:04 Sen. Hatch is up now. He asks about defending the constitutionality of acts of Congress she disagrees with. Lynch says she will commit to defending them except in “rare” cases where there is no reasonable argument in favor of an act’s constitutionality.
But Hatch notes that Eric Holder gave the same commitment. That’s really the subtext of the entire hearing. Holder appeared no less committed to the rule of law than Lynch appears today. He appeared just as sincere. He too had stellar paper credentials and endorsements.
Given Holder’s reign of abuse and Lynch’s closeness with Holder, Lynch shouldn’t be confirmed unless she differentiates herself from Holder by disagreeing with him on key substantive positions and denouncing at least some of his abuses.
11:01 Lynch wisely declines Leahy’s invitation to overly tout the criminal justice system as the weapon of choice in the fight against terrorism. It’s just one tool in the arsenal, she intones.
As for waterboarding, she states unequivocally that it is torture. That seems to be the Republican consensus too, so it’s safe for Lynch to say this.
10:57 Now Leahy quotes Bill O’Reilly who apparently once called Lynch “a hero” for something she did.
It didn’t take long for this hearing to descend into farce.
10:55 It’s Leahy’s turn. He says Lynch’s opening statement was so moving he will send copies to his family and close friends. You can’t make this stuff up.
Now he throws her a softball so she can talk some more about police-community relations. It’s a canned, 100 percent content free presentation.
10:50 Grassley moves on to IRS targeting. Here, Lynch has an easy out. “There’s no place for bias” by federal agencies, she says, but she doesn’t know the facts of this case.
Grassley wants to know whether it was appropriate for President Obama to say there isn’t a “smidgeon of evidence” of targeting even though an investigation was ongoing. Lynch ducks the question.
10:47 Grassley follows up by asking for the “outer boundaries” of prosecutorial discretion, if an entire vast category can be exempted from prosecution. Lynch doesn’t answer. She just says that this instance of discretion is reasonable.
10:45 Lynch begins what is obviously a canned answer. She says she has looked at the DOJ internal opinion that says Obama has this authority. She finds the opinion reasonable.
In other words, she backs the legality of the executive amnesty. This should be sufficient reason not to confirm her.
10:44 Grassley begins the questioning. He starts with Obama’s executive amnesty. Does she believe Obama has the legal authority to defer deportation and grant permits to those who are here illegally.
10:37 Now she’s talking about prosecuting sex crimes. Then, she moves on to affirm her great respect for the police. She’s talking about the unshakable bonds between the police and the community, which she wants to strengthen.
Nothing about police racism and abuse. Lynch has put aside the Obama-Holder playbook for purposes of this hearing.
Is she sincere? I’m skeptical.
10:35 She begins the substantive portion of her statement by focusing on the war on terror. Smart move. Would this be the focus of her stewardship of the DOJ? I’m skeptical.
10:32 Lynch is telling her personal story. It’s a good one, but largely beside the point.
10:30 Lynch is introducing her family and will then deliver her opening statement.
10:26 Sen Gillibrand is introducing Lynch. Realizing what a tough act Schumer is to follow, Gillibrand wraps it up very quickly.
10:23 Schumer gets to the heart of the Democrats case. He says that no one can find anything wrong with Lynch, so her opponents are going to change the focus and talk about policies they disagree with. In other words, they will “politicize” the hearing.
Let’s hope so. The Justice Department has been thoroughly politicized, and thus, if Senators are doing their job, they need to make sure Lynch stands opposed to the politicizing.
The Attorney General has enormous power. Lynch should not be confirmed unless Senators are satisfied that she will use the power responsibly and, above all, lawfully. Her ability as an attorney is “table stakes,” not sufficient reason for confirmation.
10:21 Chuck Schumer is now introducing Lynch, in his capacity as her home state Senator. It’s one cliche after another.
This is good. Schumer says that Lynch has a reputation for keeping her head down and avoiding publiity — “just like me.”
10:18 Now, Leahy is bitching about how much DOJ money goes to prisons and how so many people are incarcerated. He could deliver this blather in his sleep, and it’s entirely clear that he isn’t.
10:16 Sen. Leahy is now giving his opening statement. He says he wants to focus on the nominee not the past. He’s telling Lynch’s “story” now and touting the fact that she would be the first African-American women.
10:14 Grassley says his vote will turn on whether she will be independent. He says he has no reason to believe she won’t. He adds that Lynch had nothing to do with Holder’s policy, but she can fix things.
10:11 Grassley continues his broad-ranging attack on the Holder Justice Department. He’s talking about Fast and Furious and the IRS targeting now.
10:08 Grassley begins his opening statement. He says the new AG will have to restore respect for the rule of law, for the co-equal branches, for transparency, for the faithful execution of the law, etc.
10:06 Grassley urges the audience not to get rowdy. “I know there’s a lot to protest about this administration, but this is not the place to do it,” he says.
10:05 Sen. Grassley, the Chairman of Judiciary Committee, bring down the gravel. It’s on!