Senate panel approves Rosenstein successor

Senate panel approves Rosenstein successor
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The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE's nominee to succeed outgoing Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Rosenstein10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Why the presumption of innocence doesn't apply to Trump McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing 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 MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony 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 BarrProsecutors are mainly to blame for the criminal justice crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall MORE.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Cindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death Trump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week 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 FeinsteinTrump administration urges Congress to reauthorize NSA surveillance program The Hill's Morning Report - More talk on guns; many questions on Epstein's death Juan Williams: We need a backlash against Big Tech 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 HironoLawmakers urge DNC to name Asian American debate moderator Democratic senator on possibility of Trump standing up to the NRA: 'That's just such BS' Schumer to Trump: Demand McConnell hold vote on background check bill 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.