Among many other topics, the Senate today debated the nomination of Rachel Brand to be Associate Attorney General, the third position in the Department of Justice. Leader McConnell spoke of her sterling credentials:
Rachel Brand's impressive background includes experience clerking for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, and she has already been confirmed by the Senate twice before. She is extraordinarily talented, as Chairman Grassley noted at her hearing, and dedicated to the full and evenhanded enforcement of our laws. Ms. Brand also has the support of a bipartisan group of former senior officials at the Justice Department, including Jamie Gorlich and Seth Waxman, who in a recent letter on her behalf cited her stellar reputation for integrity, legal skills, and respect for the law. As they pointed out, Ms. Brand's extensive private and public sector experience would serve her well as the Associate Attorney General, and they also noted she would be a trusted leader in the Department.
After further outlining her impressive resume, Senator Kennedy of Louisiana noted that the responsibilities of the Associate Attorney General are important:
It's responsible for the oversight of the Civil Division, the Civil Rights Division, the Office on Violence Against Women, and many other important components of the Department of Justice. I think no matter what political party you happen to be in or whatever your political persuasion, we can all agree that right now it is particularly important not only to have a Department of Justice that is fully staffed, but to have it fully staffed with extraordinarily qualified people that every American can look at and go wow, is she qualified. . . . I fully support Mrs. Brand's nomination. I sit on the Judiciary Committee, the committee of the Senate that vetted her. She's highly respected. She's whip smart, she's well-qualified, and she is fully prepared to hit the ground running, and that is exactly what we need.
Yet, despite her credentials and how uncontroversial she should be, Democrats have obstructed and delayed her nomination, far more than similarly qualified and uncontroversial Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Why? Because she is a strong, conservative woman nominated by President Trump, and Democrats are determined to attack and oppose President Trump to gain political points with their extreme liberal base in whatever way possible. And Democrats particularly cannot allow a woman (or a minority in other cases - see Judge Thapar) who is a Republican to hold high office, as it disrupts their narrative of Republicans being anti-woman, anti-minority, etc.
Senator Blumenthal admitted today that the opposition is not about Rachel Brand but about opposing President Trump and preventing the confirmation of Republicans to positions in the Department of Justice:
I will oppose this nomination, and I will oppose all nominations for the Department of Justice until public trust and confidence in the rule of law is restored and sustained by the appointment of an independent special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in our last election and potential links to the Trump campaign and Trump associates.
. . .
But I also have disagreements with Rachel Brand. I respect her record of public service. I believe she is simply not the right person to serve as Associate Attorney General because of her long-standing apparently deeply held philosophy on the use and proper application of government power. When the government engages in actions that threaten the privacy rights of innocent Americans, Miss Brand has advocated nonaction. I believe that the United States must protect the privacy of her citizens. And that fact is only one among many that cause me to disagree with her, but the failure to nominate and appoint an independent special prosecutor will lead me to oppose all of the nominations that are set forth by this administration, including anyone nominated for the F.B.I. And I think it should now be clear if it was not before that such an independent prosecutor is necessary.
Setting aside the ridiculousness of the Democrats' demands for an independent special prosecutor, Sen. Blumenthal's opposition boils down to, in order: 1. Trump, 2. Russia, and 3. Ms. Brand has the audacity to be a conservative and Republican.
The Senate finally voted for cloture on the Brand nomination, with only 51 votes in favor of cloture. Can you imagine the outrage if Republicans had delayed, obstructed, opposed, and voted against a woman nominated for a high position by a Democratic President? Especially if for no other reason than pure politics.