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Tag: confirmation hearing

ATF Nominee Dettelbach Makes Case for Leading the Agency

Steve Dettelbach testifies before a Senate committee. Photo: U.S. Senate

By Steve Neavling

President Biden’s pick to lead the ATF, Steve Dettelbach, pledged to leave politics out of the job during a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, just two days after a mass shooting at an elementary school shooting in Texas. 

“Politics can play no role in law enforcement. None at all,” he said, according to CNN.

“I worked under Republican administrations, and I worked under Democratic administrations as a federal prosecutor and I have lived that credo and I vow to continue to do it because people need to have confidence that people in law enforcement’s only agenda is to enforce the law – and if you’re at the ATF to catch the bad guys and protect the public,” he added.

In his opening remarks, Dettelbach addressed the rise in violent crime. 

“We face many threats to public safety, both new and old,” Dettelbach said in opening remarks. “Violent crime is increasing, firearms violence and mass shootings are increasing, hate crimes and religious violence are increasing, as is violent extremism. If confirmed, I promise to do everything I can to enforce the law, to respect the Constitution of the United States and to partner with law enforcement to protect the safety and the rights of innocent and law-abiding Americans.”

Dettelbach called the school shooting “unimaginable.”

The ATF has been without a permanent leader since ATF Director B. Todd Jones led the agency from 2011 to 2015. 

After the hearing, the White House said in a statement that it’s critical that the Senate approve Dettelbach to head the ATF. 

“After being vacant for seven years, it’s never been more important to have a tough, experienced, leader like Steve Dettelbach at the helm of ATF to support the agents risking their lives on the front lines every day to protectthe American people. And as we saw with the tragic shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo – where ATF agents have played a key role in the investigations – and with daily gun violence plaguing too many of our communities, now is the time to provide ATF the leadership it needs to redouble its work to enforce our gun laws and make our communities safer.”

Dettelbach was confirmed by the Senate to serve as attorney for the U.S. District Court in Northern Ohio, a position he held from 2009 to 2016. He launched an unsuccessful campaign to serve as attorney general in Ohio in 2018. Since then, he has worked in the private sector for BakerHostetler. 

Senate Confirms Lisa Monaco as President Biden’s Deputy Attorney General

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco

By Steve Neavling

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Biden’s nominee, Lisa Monaco, as deputy attorney general, the top two spot at the Justice Department. 

Monaco, 53, who served as assistant attorney general for national security and White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser under President Obama, was confirmed in a 98-2 vote. 

Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul voted against confirmation. 

Monaco was among Obama’s potential nominees for FBI director.

As deputy attorney general, Monaco will oversee the Justice Department’s operations and supervise the FBI and Bureau of Prisons. 

Monaco is known as a consensus-builder with experience on cyber issues. 

Biden’s pick for associate attorney general, Vanita Gupta, could be confirmed this week. 

Garland Moves Closer to Confirmation for Attorney General

By Steve Neavling

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he plans to support Merrick Garland’s nomination for attorney general. 

When asked if he expected to vote to confirm Garland, McConnell told POLITICO, “I do.”

Garland testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday in the second day of his two-day confirmation hearing. 

During the hearing, all five witnesses praised Garland. 

The committee is expected to vote on his confirmation Monday, and the full Senate plans to vote next week. 

Garland, 68, rose to national prominence in 2016 when President Obama nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Republicans denied him a hearing. 

With Democrats now in control of the U.S. Senate, Republican won’t be able to block his nomination to serve as attorney general.  

Garland was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997. 

Garland is a graduate of Harvard University’s college and law school. 

Chad Wolf Faces Pointed Questions at Homeland Security Confirmation Hearing

Acting Homeland Security Director Chad Wolf testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf fielded pointed questions during his Senate confirmation Wednesday and denied a whistleblower’s allegations that he pressured employees to downplay Russian election interference.

Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Wolf called the whistleblower’s claims “patently false.”

In a written complaint in August, Brian Murphy, the former chief of intelligence at DHS, accused acting Wolf of directing him to suppress assessments on Russia and later withhold a report on Russian propaganda attacking Joe Biden’s mental health.

“It is patently false. It is a fabrication, completely,” Wolf told the committee.

Wolf said Murphy was reassigned to Homeland Security’s management division following news that his office collected intelligence on protesters and journalists in Portland. But in the complaint, Murphy said the real reason for his demotion was his raising concerns about the orders.

At the start of the hearing, Sen. Gar Peters, D-Mich., said, “Rhetoric and political ideology cannot drive intelligence reports, and it should not predetermine the actions of any federal department,” The Associated Press reports.

It’s not yet clear if Wolf has the votes to be confirmed.

Courts and the Government Accountability Office have both suggested Wolf is not legally qualified to hold the position because he was appointed through an invalid process.

Wolf is Trump’s fifth Homeland Security secretary. The last Senate-confirmed secretary was Kirstjen Nielsen, who was forced out in April 2019.

Homeland Security’s Chad Wolf Set for Confirmation Hearing Wednesday Amid Uncertainties

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Acing Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is scheduled to appear before a Senate committee Wednesday for a confirmation hearing amid doubts about his legitimacy as a candidate.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee plans to introduce Wolf at the hearing after President Tump officially submitted his nomination for Wolf on Sept. 10.

Wolf is Trump’s fifth Homeland Security secretary, but his confirmation is anything but a certainty. The last Senate-confirmed secretary was Kirstjen Nielsen, who was forced out in April 2019.

Courts and the Government Accountability Office have both suggested Wolf is not legally qualified to hold the position because he was appointed through an invalid process.

“Because the incorrect official assumed the title of acting secretary at that time, subsequent amendments to the order of succession made by that official were invalid,” the GAO said in August.

In a separate ruling last week, a Maryland judge blocked the Trump administration’s new asylum restrictions, saying Wolf appears to lack the authority to introduce them.

The White House has ignored the opinions and is moving forward with the nomination.

Whether Wolf has the votes to be confirmed remains unknown.

Senate Panel Approves Trump’s Nominee to Lead Homeland Security

Kirstjen Nielsen, via Twitter

Kirstjen Nielsen, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, was approved Tuesday by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, setting the state for a full Senate vote.

The committee approved the nomination with a vote of 11-4, the Hill reports. 

Plans to confirm the nominee last week were delayed because of nearly 200 follow-up questions from lawmakers.

Nielsen, the White House deputy chief of staff. is expected to proceed to a full Senate confirmation in the coming weeks.

If confirmed, she will lead an agency responsible for protecting America’s borders from terrorists and cybersecurity threats and heading up disaster relief efforts.

The department has been without a permanent leader since John Kelly vacated the position to move to the White House as Trump’s chief of staff at the end of July.

“Our nation is facing constantly-evolving threats, making it all the more important for strong, permanent leadership at DHS. Ms. Nielsen’s prior experience at the department, background in cybersecurity, and tenure with General Kelly will serve her well in this challenging position,” committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said in a statement Tuesday evening. “I hope the Senate will take up Ms. Nielsen’s nomination as quickly as possible.

Justice Department to Retry Woman Charged for Laughing During Sessions’ Confirmation Hearing

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department plans to retry a woman who was arrested and charged for laughing during the conformation hearing of Jeff Sessions.

A judge dismissed the original charges against Desiree Fairooz in July, saying “laughter alone was legally insufficient to convict someone of disorderly or disruptive behavior on Capitol grounds, or disrupting Congress.”

Fairooz laughed when Sen. Richard Shelby said Sessions had a “clear and well-documented” record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.” Noting Sessions’ history on civil rights, Fairooz said she laughed because the claims were so ridiculously false.

Fairooz has rejected a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty, so the 61-year-old is headed back to trial, the Advocate reports. 

The judge in the case vacated the conviction but granted a motion for a new trial, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 13.

Other Stories of Interest

Democratic Groups Urge Delay on FBI Director Vote Until Trump Comes Clean on Mueller

Christopher Wray at confirmation hearing.

Christopher Wray at confirmation hearing.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A group of Democratic groups is urging the Senate to oppose the confirmation of Christopher Wray as FBI director until President Trump can assure lawmakers that he won’t fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

A letter addressed to key members of the Senate suggests President Trump “seems intent on thwarting special counsel’s investigation” into Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Before moving to confirm a new Trump-selected FBI Director, the Senate should be assured that President Trump and his White House will respect the independence of the FBI’s law enforcement function from White House interference,” according to the letter, signed by nine groups, including Citizens of Responsibility and Ethics, Common Cause and MoveOn.org.

It’s unclear whether the letter will have any impact. Wray has bi-partisan support after pledging independence during his confirmation hearing, and lawmakers are expected to approve the confirmation within a month.