Today, consideration of the Dawn Johnsen nomination to lead the critical Office of Legal Counsel at the DOJ was delayed and put off, yet again, for the fourth time. From Main Justice:
The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday postponed for the fourth time a vote on on the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel because of the White House health care summit with members of Congress this morning.
Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said the health care summit, which several members of the panel attended, was an “extraordinary circumstance.” Traditionally, panel members can only ask to hold over a nominee once.
Any excuse is a good excuse. Note, however, that the Senate Judiciary Committee was able to find time today, in spite of the healthcare summit, to pass a witness protection bill the DOJ sought. Oh, and the SJC also found time to approve the nominations of two US Attorney candidates, both of whom were just nominated by President Obama two months ago on December 24th. But they just couldn’t find time for Dawn Johnsen, who was tapped by Obama to lead the OLC over a year ago, before Obama was even inaugurated.
It is interesting that the two US Attorney nominees moved out of Committee today were nominated on December 24, 2009 as that was the very same day the first nomination of Dawn Johnsen to lead the OLC was killed by the obstreperous neglect of the Obama Administration.
In fairness to the SJC, they have arguably had excuses for the four, count em four, instances in which they have set over consideration of Obama’s renomination of Johnsen this year. Further, Chairman Pat Leahy, as well as SJC members Sheldon Whitehouse and Arlen Specter, have all been forthright in their desire to get Johnsen confirmed.
But the Senate, whether the Judiciary Committee or having 60 votes to obtain cloture on the floor, has never really been the hold up on confirmation of Dawn Johnsen; the failure has been an utter lack of desire by the Obama White House to confirm their own nominee. I have previously established that the Obama White House had the sixty (60) votes necessary to confirm Dawn Johnsen as of the split second Senator Al Franken was sworn in and seated on July 7, 2009.
If there were any questions about Arlen Specter being the 60th vote for Johnsen’s confirmation for the entire second half of Obama’s first year in office, they were answered completely by Senator Specter two days ago. If you want extra gravy on the proof, add in the fact that the two Senators from Maine, Snowe and Collins, have never indicated they would block a vote on Johnsen and have allowed up or down votes in such situations before, and Ben Nelson has never even been asked by the White House to support her.
So, when the Obama White House has been able to confirm their own nominee all this time, and they refuse to even request a vote, you have to wonder why? You would think with all the recent commotion about the lack of ethics and shoddy work produced by the Office of Legal Counsel over the last eight years, and the inability of the DOJ to police the substandard work of their own attorneys, getting a strong, principled, experienced and competent leader like Dawn Johnsen confirmed would be a glaring priority for Barack Obama and his White House team, just like Obama swore was his desire when he first nominated her.
You would think confirming Dawn Johnsen would be a priority for the Obama White House, but clearly you would be wrong. What is even more startling is, given the heavy exposure of the problems in the OLC, and inability of OPR to regulate it, the last few days that no one in the press and media are asking the Obama White House why they have so hung their own nominee out to dry. I guess prattling on and on about the Kabuki theater of the health care summit and the status of Sally Quinn’s dysfunctional family is just more important to the papers of record these days.