Senator Leahy ready to expedite Attorney General confirmation process

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(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy says he’s prepared to expedite the confirmation process for President Bush’s new Attorney General nominee.

First though, he says the White House needs to provide the Senate Judiciary committee with key information about the administration’s wiretapping efforts.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports…

(Kinzel) For the past week, Senate Democratic leaders have signaled publicly and privately to White House officials about which candidates under consideration for Attorney General would be met with a lot of opposition.

There was a clear message that the nomination of former federal judge Michael Mukasey would be viewed in a relatively positive light.

Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary committee and will lead the panel’s review of Mukasey. He says the Bush Administration has taken the right approach with this nomination:

(Leahy)"It looks as though the president has listened to my advice in not putting somebody confrontational he had a number of people who would be seen as very very partisan Republicans and he considered all those names and rejected them this man is a well respected Republican."

For several months, Leahy has tried unsuccessfully to persuade the White House to release critical information about the decision making process that was used on several controversial issues.

Leahy says he needs this information before he can schedule a confirmation hearing for judge Mukasey:

(Leahy)"I don’t expect them to turn over everything that we’ve requested some of that is going to be contested in court but there are a number of areas we could agree on and I told them I want that so that Republicans and Democrats on the committee will have a basis to ask questions we want to know if he disagrees with the Gonzales memo on torture we want to know whether he disagrees with the Gonzales position allowing wiretapping of Americans without any kind of court supervision so I think we can work that out."

Leahy says he’s prepared to move quickly on this nomination if the White House releases the information that he’s requested:

(Leahy)"If they want to we could do that within the next week work out the solution then they have to do a background check on the judge…and then we’ll set a hearing if they work quickly with us we could have a hearing sometime next month."

Leahy says he’s going to withhold judgement on the Mukasey nomination until after the confirmation hearings.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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