- Written by Leonora Leigh
Now that Attorney General Eric Holder has announced his resignation, the media is buzzing with speculation as to who will replace the 82nd Attorney General of the United States. And the pressure is on. Al Sharpton, yes that Al Sharpton, is leading up the search efforts. President Obama is feeling the heat. The pressure is on to find a successor before the general election. If the Senate goes back to the Republicans, the candidate will face much greater scrutiny from the right. Under the current scenario, a simple majority within the Senate is needed to approve the candidate. But if the Senate goes back to the Republicans, the old rules which Harry Reid dismantled go back into effect. A 60% Senate majority will be needed for confirmation.
Leading candidates include General Solicitor Donald Verilli who has been in his role since 2011 when he succeeded Elena Kagan who went on to become a Supreme Court justice. Mr. Verilli is well known for defending the Affordable Care before the Supreme Court in 2012. Deputy Attorney General James Cole is also an assumed possibility by virtue of his position. But Cole may have difficulty due to his role in authorizing the seizure of the Associated Press reporters’ phone records. FBI Director James Comey is another contender. Comey, a Republican who previously served as deputy attorney general during the first term of the Bush Administration would be an appealing choice to the right. But since Mr. Comey has only been in his current position for a year, he may not be ready to move onto a new role yet. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York would be a strong candidate and who would probably please both sides of the aisle. Mr. Bharara is known for being a tough prosecutor. Some of his cases have included the terrorism conviction of Osama Bin Laden’s son in law and the civil rights violations at Rikers Island. Mr. Bharara has been in the news recently for investigating New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for his role in the disbanding of his anticorruption commission.
However, there is also a lot of chatter about a woman candidate. According to long term Holder friend Harvard University professor Charles Ogletree, the next attorney general is likely to be a woman. During a recent appearance on MSNBC Mr. Ogletree repeatedly referred to the potential candidate as “she”. Former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is a strong choice. But some doubt that Ms. Napolitano is interested in leaving her current position as head of the University of California System. Other top female contenders include California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Loretta Lynch, the current U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. If either candidate is chosen, she would be the first female African American Attorney General.
Stay tuned. The race to find #83 is going to be interesting.