Judiciary Republicans have concerns about pick for Holder's No. 2

Attorney General Eric HolderEric H. HolderJuan Williams: Momentum builds against gerrymandering GOP worries as state Dems outperform in special elections House votes to curb asset seizures MORE’s choice to fill the No. 2 post at the Justice Department will face hostile Judiciary Committee Republicans during his confirmation hearing Tuesday.

James Cole, a personal friend of Holder and top white-collar criminal defense attorney at Bryan Cave, served as a former federal prosecutor at the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Division during the Bill ClintonBill ClintonGOP rep: North Korea wants Iran-type nuclear deal Lawmakers, pick up the ball on health care and reform Medicaid The art of the small deal MORE administration.

ADVERTISEMENT
But Cole, 57, may be best known for his role in a yearlong investigation into former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1996, when Cole served as special counsel to the House ethics committee.

The panel found that Gingrich had misused tax-exempt funds and provided false information to the committee. The findings led to a harsh rebuke of Gingrich and House lawmakers voted 395-28 to reprimand and fine him $300,000.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary expressed concerns about Cole in late May immediately after the administration announced his nomination. They are expected to raise issues with his work as a government-imposed monitor at insurance giant AIG.

“There are already some areas of concern, such as Mr. Cole’s work monitoring the activities of failed insurance giant AIG beginning in 2006 – which later received a massive $182.3 bailout, at a current estimated cost to taxpayers of $45 billion,” Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRhode Island announces plan to pay DACA renewal fee for every 'Dreamer' in state Mich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead NAACP sues Trump for ending DACA MORE (R-Ala.) said in a release. “How he performed at that job is directly relevant to his qualifications and will need to be closely examined.”

In responses on his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire, Cole said in notes for a speech that he was “not received as a member of the family” when he began his work as a monitor at AIG in 2005.

Holder made a pitch Thursday for the Senate to confirm Cole as deputy attorney general, a job he said is extremely important to the running of the Justice Department.

“Jim is gong to be a great deputy attorney general,” Holder said during a news conference to discuss a recent drug bust. “I’ve known him for a good number of years; we worked together a long time ago in [Justice’s] Public Integrity Section. To have him on board in a
confirmed position, in confirmed status, is extremely important to the running of the Justice Department.”

Republicans likely will grill Cole about his representation of Saudi Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud after insurance carriers and Sept. 11 survivors tried to sue him and others after allegations surfaced that they had been involved in financing terrorists.

As the second-highest official at Justice, Cole would manage the day-to-day operations of tens of thousands of its employees nationwide and would likely help Holder with requests for testimony before Congress. He would also likely play a key role in decisions involving terrorist prosecutions. The Justice Department has yet to announce a new venue for the trial of self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 terrorism suspects after revising original plans to prosecute them in New York City.

Holder also recently announced plans to revise the Miranda law in a way that allows greater flexibility to question suspects in terrorism cases. Republicans have blasted Holder for reading the failed Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights just hours after ascertaining him and beginning to question him.

Holder’s previous deputy, David Ogden, left Justice in February after serving less than a year. Ogden led Obama’s transition team for the Justice Department, but officials said he and Holder did not work well together and that Ogden agreed last fall to step down.