Cole has also advocated holding the trials of accused terrorists, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in civilian courts rather than before military tribunals, a view that is highly unpopular among Senate Republicans.
"I do believe we should oppose his confirmation and his permanent appointment," Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsSenate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general C-SPAN to air Trump travel ban arguments live Trump faults DNC in Russian email hacks MORE (R-Ala.) said Monday afternoon. "I am not going to vote for another nominee who spent his or her time defending terrorists."
Sessions contends that Cole is just the next in a long string of Obama nominees to the Justice Department who have somehow been involved in the defense of accused terrorists.
"I didn't look for people spending their spare time voluntarily defending terrorists," Sessions added, referring to appointments made during his own service as attorney general of Alabama.
Cole, whose nomination was already blocked once by Republican senators last year, is currently serving as the deputy attorney general. Obama circumvented the Senate through the end of 2011 by appointing Cole while the Senate was in recess.
That fact did not go unnoticed by Republicans who oppose Cole’s nomination.
Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyTrump, lower court nominees need American Bar Association review Trump eyeing second Supreme Court seat Grassley: Another Supreme Court vacancy likely this summer MORE (R-Iowa) said he did not want to reward Obama's behavior — that is, circumventing the Senate — by voting for cloture on the nomination.
As deputy attorney general, Cole essentially runs the day-to-day operations of the Department of Justice, as well as supervising the National Security Division.
Other complaints expressed by Republicans on Monday revolved around Cole's job as an independent monitor at AIG, the insurance giant that had to be bailed out during the recent financial crisis.
Several Democrats also came to the floor Monday afternoon to defend Cole.
Referring to the successful military operation that killed Osama bin Laden, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWeek ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 'Tuesday Group' turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare MORE (D-Nev.) called for a swift confirmation of Cole.
"In the last week, our country has been reminded of the incredibly important role our intelligence community plays," Reid said. "It is unthinkable that partisanship and legislative ploys are keeping a public servant as well-qualified as Jim Cole out of this important national security role. I hope the Senate will confirm him quickly.”