Chuck Schumer then versus now on Bush’s pick for new AG

The President made it official today that he would like to see retired federal judge Michael Mukasey as the next US Attorney General:

In his 18 years on the federal bench, “He earned the reputation as a tough but fair judge,” Bush said in the Rose Garden announcement Monday, adding that Mukasey is “widely admired for his brilliance and integrity.”

Pointing to his experience in overseeing the trial of the “blind sheik” in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as experience in waging the War on Terror, Bush said, Mukasey “knows what it takes to fight this war effectively, and he knows how to do it in a manner that is consistent with our laws and our Constitution.”

Bush urged the Senate to confirm Mukasey quickly.

Earlier, a senior administration official told FOX News: “Mukasey has a wealth of legal and judicial experience, and has a superb reputation for his fairness, intellect, and dedication to public service. The president is confident that Americans will be proud to have such an accomplished and highly-qualified lawyer, former federal prosecutor and former federal judge with extensive experience in national security cases to serve as America’s chief law enforcement officer,” the official said Monday, adding that “it is essential that the U.S. Senate moves quickly to consider his nomination.”

The naming of Mukasey is likely to prevent a sticky confirmation fight in the Senate, though at least one senator, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said that several Justice Department issues still under investigation will not be dropped.

Mukasey may not sail through the confirmation hearings, thanks to Senators like the wavering Chuck Schumer. Via the NY Sun:

President Bush’s choice of Michael Mukasey, a retired judge from New York who has received the support of Senator Schumer, to be the next attorney general signals that the White House wishes to avoid a Senate confirmation battle.

Still, it is unclear whether Mr. Schumer is willing to shepherd Judge Mukasey through confirmation hearings whose main topic could shape up to be the politicization of the Justice Department during Attorney General Gonzales’s tenure.

Mr. Schumer, one of the Senate’s fiercest critics of Mr. Gonzales, has long touted Judge Mukasey for a position higher than the district court judgeship he held for 19 years. In 2003, the senator recommended the judge as an eventual successor to Chief Justice Rehnquist on the Supreme Court. Earlier this year, he floated Judge Mukasey’s name for the attorney general position.

In a statement issued last night, the senator was somewhat guarded. “For sure we’d want to ascertain his approach on such important and sensitive issues as wiretapping and the appointment of US attorneys, but he’s a lot better than some of the other names mentioned and he has the potential to become a consensus nominee,” the statement said.

Captain Ed responds:

Uncle Chuck changed his mind? Just two years ago, Schumer pushed Mukasey as a contender for the William Rehnquist seat on the Supreme Court. The liberal group Alliance for Justice joined him in endorsing Mukasey as an alternative to John Roberts. Schumer called him a “consensus candidate”, and AJ said it would be a “conciliatory act”.

Suddenly, George Bush’s interest in Mukasey appears to have left a bad taste in Schumer’s mouth. Two years ago, he wanted Mukasey for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Now Chuck has to qualify his support when Bush wants Mukasey to run Justice for a whole 16 months. All that Mukasey has done from the bench since Schumer shopped him in 2005 is retire. Why all of the hesitation?

Bush has managed to strip Schumer of his last pretenses of fairness and honesty, and the Alliance for Justice may be next. Uncle Chuck couldn’t give a fig for “consensus”. He used Mukasey as a club to beat Bush two years ago, and Nan Aron of AJ jumped on the bandwagon. Schumer just had his bluff called, and one can expect that the confirmation hearings will feature several Republican committee members read into the record over and over again Schumer’s endorsement of Mukasey for the lifetime appointment.

I can’t wait.

That NY Sun link has lots more info on Mukasey. Make sure to read the whole thing.

Michelle Malkin writes that there is plenty of conservative opposition to Mukasey, too, and points out that he is being labelled as the “consensus pick” – which is worrisome, but Andrew McCarthy has more info on Mukasey here which may ease some of the concerns conservatives have about Bush’s nominee for new AG.

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