Senate confirms ‘torture memo’ author to lead Transportation Dept legal office

Senate confirms ‘torture memo’ author to lead Transportation Dept legal office
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The Senate narrowly confirmed President Trump’s controversial pick to serve as the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) chief legal adviser on Tuesday.

In a 50-47 vote, senators approved Steven Bradbury to be general counsel at the DOT. As chief legal officer of the department, Bradbury will have final authority on questions of law at the DOT and will supervise, coordinate and review the work of almost 500 lawyers throughout the agency.

Democrats have opposed Bradbury’s nomination for a litany of reasons, including that he wrote the legal justifications that authorized “enhanced interrogation techniques” under the George W. Bush administration.


Bradbury was one of several architects of the so-called torture memos while he was the head of the Justice Department’s legal counsel office. Democrats blocked Bradbury from serving as assistant attorney general in 2008 over his role in the memos.

"In my opinion, his connection to these memos alone should disqualify Mr. Bradbury from government service," said Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDem senator introduces bill to publicize Trump officials' flying Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Dem Iraq War vets renew AUMF push on 15th anniversary of war MORE (D-Ill.) on the Senate floor. "Those torture memos displayed a disturbing disregard for the intent of Congress and flouted both international and United States law."

During his confirmation hearing earlier this year, Bradbury emphasized that he was not advocating for a position, but was just giving his best legal judgment.

“Every opinion I gave … represented my best judgment of what the laws in effect at that time required,” Bradbury said. “I certainly recognize and respect that some of the questions we addressed during my tenure in the office raised difficult issues about which reasonable people could disagree.”

Other Democrats, however, raised concern about Bradbury’s work in the private sector representing Takata Corp.

The Japanese auto parts company is responsible for making defective airbags that have led to the largest auto recall in history — something the DOT has a role in overseeing.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain asks Trump's CIA pick to explain ties to torture Petraeus: Haspel will explain actions in nomination hearing Afghanistan is our longest war ever and Congress has abandoned all responsibility MORE (R-Ariz.), who spent time in captivity as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, also opposed Bradbury's nomination.

"I am making it clear that I will not support any nominee who justified the use of torture by Americans," he said.

- This report was updated at 5:29 p.m