WH hints at replacing Holder in lame duck

WH hints at replacing Holder in lame duck
© Getty Images

The White House hinted Friday that it hoped to hold a vote on a replacement for Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderHolder: 2018 vote crucial to combating gerrymandering Holder: Sessions needs to 'have the guts' to say no to Trump Holder urges Justice Dept, FBI officials to 'be strong' in face of attacks: 'It will get worse' MORE during the lame-duck session of Congress later this year.

It is "worth looking at some of the recent occasions in which Congress has considered nominees in this context," said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. He did not have any update on the timing for the president's announcement.

He went on to note that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates was nominated and confirmed during the lame-duck session in 2006. His predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, resigned after a wave of Democrats won election, giving them control of the upper chamber.

"So there is a precedent for presidents making important Cabinet nominations and counting on Congress to confirm them promptly, even in the context of a lame-duck session, if necessary," Earnest said.

Earnest also noted that former President George W. Bush's Attorney General Michael Mukasey was confirmed within seven weeks of his nomination.

"So there is a pretty clear precedent for attorneys general and for other prominent Cabinet officials to go through the process of being nominated and confirmed quickly and with bipartisan support," Earnest said.

A number of Republican lawmakers have warned the president against trying to force Holder's replacement through in the lame-duck session. But if Democrats lose control of the Senate, the administration and leadership would have an incentive to move the nomination through before Republicans take control.

"Rather than rush a nominee through the Senate in a lame-duck session, I hope the president will now take his time to nominate a qualified individual who can start fresh relationships with Congress so that we can solve the problems facing our country,” said Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Tech: Facebook faces crisis over Cambridge Analytica data | Lawmakers demand answers | What to watch for next | Day one of AT&T's merger trial | Self-driving Uber car kills pedestrian Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica attracts scrutiny | House passes cyber response team bill | What to know about Russian cyberattacks on energy grid Overnight Finance: Congress races to finish .2T funding bill | What to look for in omnibus | AT&T merger trial kicks off | Stocks fall on tech troubles | Trump targets Venezuelan cryptocurrency | Record SEC whistleblower payout MORE (Iowa), ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Earnest offered little insight into the vetting process, other than saying the candidate "will have the kinds of skills and credentials that will merit a prompt and bipartisan confirmation vote."

Holder announced on Thursday his intent to step down after a replacement is found.