Senate panel approves Rosenstein successor

Senate panel approves Rosenstein successor
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The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE's nominee to succeed outgoing Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWhy Mueller may be fighting a public hearing on Capitol Hill Jake Tapper fact-checks poster Trump admin created describing Mueller investigation Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general MORE.

Senators voted 12-10 to send Jeffrey Rosen's nomination to be the No. 2 figure at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote.

The Senate action comes after Rosenstein notified Trump late last month that he will leave the Justice Department, capping roughly two years in the Trump administration.

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Rosen, who was formally nominated in March, currently serves as deputy secretary of Transportation. He also previously worked in the George W. Bush administration and practiced law at the Kirkland & Ellis law firm.

If Rosen is confirmed, he'll join the Justice Department in the middle of a weeks-long battle with congressional Democrats over demands for special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' MORE's full report and the underlying evidence. Senate Democrats are also trying to get the Justice Department watchdog to open a laundry list of investigations into Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' House Democrats must insist that Robert Mueller testifies publicly Why Mueller may be fighting a public hearing on Capitol Hill MORE.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump declassification move unnerves Democrats Climate change is a GOP issue, too New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes MORE (R-S.C.) defended Rosen ahead of Thursday's vote, noting the Justice Department had previously had five deputy attorney generals that did not have DOJ experience.

"I think he's exceedingly well qualified," he said.

Democrats, however, raised concerns over Rosen's ascension to the deputy attorney general spot during his confirmation hearing, with questions about his qualifications and his potential role in overseeing probes spawning out of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Senate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Feinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel, said on Thursday that she couldn't support Rosen because he would be "learning on the job" and has a "history of partisanship that risks undermining the independence that we have so badly needed."

"We also need someone who's willing to act as an independent voice for the Department of Justice, unfortunately I am not convinced that Jeffrey Rosen is that person," Feinstein said.

Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoTrump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation Senate confirms Rosen for No. 2 spot at DOJ Alabama abortion law sparks fears Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade MORE (D-Hawaii) said she has "serious concerns" about sending Rosen's nomination to the full Senate, noting his lack of experience in the Justice Department.

"Jeffrey Rosen with his lack of experience with the DOJ, but with his experience in Republican politics, is good for Donald Trump but not good for the country," Hirono added.

But Democrats are unable to block Rosen on their own.

Republicans have a 12-10 majority on the panel, meaning Democrats would have needed to flip GOP senators if they were going to block him. Rosen would also need only a simple majority to ultimately be confirmed by the full Senate, where Republicans hold 53 seats.