WH accuses Grassley of ‘duplicity’ in Lynch nomination
The White House on Thursday criticized Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for his comments on the nomination of Loretta Lynch as attorney general.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the Iowa senator made “an astounding display of duplicity,” when he blamed Democrats for delaying her nomination last year. In September, Grassley said Obama should not nominate a replacement for outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder during the lame-duck Congress.
Earnest said the “sad part” is that Grassley, 81, has gained a reputation as “somebody who is true to his word.”
“The only conclusion I can draw from this is astounding exchange is that it’s possible that Sen. Grassley has been in Washington too long,” Earnest said of the six-term senator.
The White House has grown increasingly frustrated over the delay in Lynch’s nomination. She has waited 159 days for a confirmation vote in the Senate.
Senate Republicans have said they will not hold a vote on Lynch until the Senate passes a long-stalled human-trafficking bill. Democrats have declined to support the bill due to controversial abortion language tacked on by Republicans.
Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine lashed out against Earnest’s remarks in a scathing statement accusing the White House of “rewriting history.”
“Instead of lodging personal attacks against a highly respected senator, the White House would be better off spending time getting their left-wing lobby to drop their opposition to legislative language that has been the law of the land for more than 35 years,” Levine wrote. “Maybe at that point Senate Democrats would stop filibustering a bill that would help end sex slavery and human trafficking and the Senate could then turn to the Lynch nomination.”
Lynch appears to have the 51 votes necessary to be confirmed.
Earnest noted the past seven attorney general nominees have waited a combined 24 days to receive a full Senate vote after clearing the Judiciary committee. Lynch has waited for 49 days.
The White House spokesman singled out Grassley, who told Bloomberg TV on Thursday, “if you want to subtract November and December” from the delay time, “you should do it.”
“The Democrats were controlling the Senate, and they decided not to bring her up because they had several pieces of legislation and a number of judges they wanted to get through” during the lame-duck session, he said.
In September, Grassley urged Obama to “take his time to nominate a qualified individual“ rather than “rush a nominee through the Senate in the lame-duck session.”
Asked whether the White House would consider withdrawing Lynch’s nomination, Earnest said, “The president believes strongly she is the right person for the job.”
“There is no reason why she shouldn’t be confirmed today by the United States Senate,” he said.