After weeks of tough questions from Republicans, the Senate confirmed Eric Holder as attorney general this evening. The vote was 75-21.
A few Republicans took to the Senate floor before the 6:15 p.m. vote, questioning changes in Holder’s stances on counterterrorism and detaining terrorist suspects without Geneva Convention rights. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Holder once supported detaining suspects without those rights but is now strongly against the Bush administration’s counterterrorism stances.
“His contrasting positions from 2002 to 2008 make me wonder if this is the same person. It makes me wonder what he truly believes.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, Arlen Specter, R-Penn., had been one of Holder’s most vocal critics. He initially objected to the quick scheduling of Holderâ€™s confirmation just weeks after his appointment by President Barack Obama, saying it did not leave enough time to investigate Holderâ€™s actions while deputy attorney general to Janet Reno during the Clinton administration.
Controversies surrounding Holder included his involvement in the pardon of Marc Rich and his decision not to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate then-Vice President Al Goreâ€™s fund-raising activities for the 1996 presidential campaign.
Specter announced last week he decided to vote for Holder after the two had a private meeting, clearing the last major hurdle for Holder’s confirmation.