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Updated 12:27 p.m. | B. Todd Jones is resigning as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives weeks after the agency abandoned a plan to ban some bullets.
Jones’ departure, effective on March 31, could mean another long slog for the agency without a confirmed director, especially given the controversy over the abandoned AR-15 bullet ban and the politically explosive gun control debate heading into an election year.
Jones praised ATF staff in a statement.
Attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch will likely see a confirmation vote next week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated to reporters Tuesday, capping a saga that has seen her bid to be the first African-American woman in the position tied up in immigration politics.
“I think we’ll be dealing with the attorney general nomination next week,” the Kentucky Republican said. Full story
Ashton Carter will be nominated by President Barack Obama this morning and will almost certainly be confirmed by the Senate. But he will face a very full plate on a job with only two years to do it.
Among the many missions Carter will have to embark on:
* Managing a White House that has churned through previous defense secretaries. Full story
Hours after the White House insisted President Barack Obama hadn’t made a decision on a new attorney general, officials announced he is nominating Loretta Lynch, a U.S. attorney in New York.
Lynch, an African-American woman with a Harvard law degree, has served two stints as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and has the strong support of Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.
The move likely will be a disappointment to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which pushed hard for Obama to name Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, a former head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
President Barack Obama’s plate is getting a little more full, with the announcement Thursday that Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole is exiting the administration.
With Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. already on his way out, Cole’s exit will leave the top two positions at the key Cabinet agency vacant.
“Over the past four years, Jim Cole has been my indispensable partner in leading the U.S. Department of Justice and extending the promise of equality under the law for everyone in this country,” Holder said in a statement, adding he will be “dearly missed.” Full story
Updated 4:38 p.m. | After the last administration pick to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division collapsed on the Senate floor, the Obama team has lined up some conservative backing for its new choice, American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Vanita Gupta.
As the news of her appointment broke in The Washington Post, DOJ spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted out favorable quotes about Gupta from Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and David Keene, the former president of the National Rifle Association.
Those are the kind of endorsements that will be needed to get approval for the pick — either from moderate Democrats who helped sink the previous choice, former NAACP lawyer Debo Adegbile — or from the GOP, which may control the Senate in January. Full story
Eric H. Holder Jr. better not pack up his Justice Department office just yet.
President Barack Obama will not be nominating a successor to his long-serving attorney general until after the midterm elections, a White House official confirmed Tuesday. Holder has said he will remain at the Justice Department until a new attorney general is confirmed by the Senate.
President Barack Obama hasn’t named a replacement for outgoing Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., but that future nominee can count on a contentious Senate confirmation process, whether it happens in the November lame-duck session or next year.
Attorney general nominations and confirmations — like everything in Washington — have become highly partisan clashes in recent years. Janet Reno, in 1993, was the last attorney general to be confirmed without any “no” votes. (Of course, her pathway to the job was anything but smooth. She was Bill Clinton’s third choice, after it was revealed that his top pick, corporate lawyer Zoe Baird, and his second, federal judge Kimba Wood, both had employed illegal immigrants as nannies.)
Among the most contentious nomination fights in recent years:
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest is citing Sen. Mitch McConnell’s support for the lame-duck confirmation of then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2006 as precedent for a quick confirmation of a replacement for Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
Earnest made the reference Friday at the his daily briefing, although he did not lay out a timetable for the president to make his decision.
He noted unprompted that the Gates nomination came the day after midterm elections with Democrats winning control of the chamber, and McConnell, R-Ky., did not propose waiting until the new Democratic Senate took over before holding a vote.
Gates, however, won overwhelming support — a 95-2 vote — and a delay would not have affected the outcome.
Earnest also noted the swift confirmation of Michael Mukasey as attorney general in 2007 by a Senate of the other party.
The Mukasey vote was narrow — 53-40.
The White House hopes for quick consideration under either scenario.