Specter Backs Holder for AG

Posted January 27, 2009 at 2:24pm

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday he will support Eric Holder’s nomination to be attorney general, an endorsement that all but assures his ultimate installment at the Justice Department.

Specter’s announcement comes just one day before the Judiciary panel votes on Holder’s nomination. Specter had earlier expressed some misgivings about Holder’s appointment, including his involvement in some controversial Clinton administration pardons.

Specter said there were issues he “thought Mr. Holder had to respond to,” including his then involvement in pardoning figures like fugitive Marc Rich. But Specter, who met privately with Holder last week, said the attorney general appointee has excellent credentials to lead the Justice Department and “deserves the benefit of the doubt.”

The Pennsylvania Republican added that Holder “will have significant Republican backing” when his confirmation heads to the Senate floor.

Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) lauded Specter’s announcement, saying his Pennsylvania colleague “joins the dozens of organizations and individuals across the political spectrum that for more than two months have praised the qualifications, integrity and independence of this nominee.”

“Tomorrow the committee will move forward to report this historic nomination to the Senate, and I hope the Senate will debate and vote on Mr. Holder’s nomination without further delay,” Leahy said.