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Judiciary to use AG hearings to attack Obama, immigration

Anu Joshi • Jan 27, 2015
Loretta Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and President Obama.

Tomorrow marks a new era for the Obama Presidency: It will be the first time a candidate he has submitted for his cabinet goes before a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate to be confirmed. His nominee? Loretta Lynch, the current United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and the first black woman to be nominated for the position of Attorney General, the head of the Department of Justice.

If confirmed, Ms. Lynch will replace current Attorney General Eric Holder, who has committed to staying in his position until the Senate successfully confirms an Obama nominee—not a small decision, as the only thing Republicans might dislike more than an/any Obama nominee for Attorney General, is Eric Holder continuing on in the position.

But, Republican leadership in the Senate have vowed not to take this nomination sitting down, promising that Lynch should expect a tough grilling when she sits in front of the Judiciary committee tomorrow afternoon.

A critical piece of her confirmation hearings will rest on her answers to questions about the use of executive power, particularly in relation to the deferred action program announced by President Obama in late November. Look for Republicans to use Lynch’s confirmation hearings to further their political fight against the President’s decision to protect millions of immigrant parents from deportation.

In furtherance of that political goal, and in a fairly unconventional move, the Republican chair of the committee, Sen. Grassley (IA), announced that the confirmation hearings would consist of two panels spread over two days. The first featuring Lynch as expected, and the second featuring a myriad of other witnesses who allegedly will testify to Lynch’s supposed credentials (or claim a lack thereof) to run the Department of Justice-a rather unorthodox way to confirm a Presidential nominee.

Catherine Engelbrecht

Catherine Engelbrecht

Most concerning is the caliber of the witnesses tapped to testify at this nomination hearing. Case in point, Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote (TTV), an offshoot of a Texas-based Tea Party group the King Street Patriots. Despite the group’s claims of non-partisan objective to eliminate voter fraud, the real goals and tactics of the organization have proven to be far more nefarious. In 2010, the organization claims it trained nearly 1,000 “poll watchers” to monitor poll activity on Election Day. However, these efforts led to several cases of alleged voter intimidation and invited controversy that would continue as the group’s reach expanded. By 2012, True the Vote began organizing webinars and training events to “empower” a network of citizen poll watchers to disproportionately scrutinize minority polling places in states across the country.

The reality is that Engelbrecht has risen to minor prominence in politically extreme circles by making national media appearances and speaking on panels alongside elected officials including Kris Kobach, notorious for his attempts to scrub legitimate voters from voter rolls. What she can offer senators who are serious about considering a candidate for the country’s defender of the Constitution is a true unknown, but here we go.

Follow Imagine2050 on Twitter for updates from tomorrow and Thursday’s confirmation hearings.

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