More than 20 House Republicans have already signed on to a letter that Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is circulating—and planning to send to the Senate Judiciary Committee later this week—calling on Senate Republicans to block the nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General of the United States in committee, Breitbart News has learned exclusively.
“We urge you to oppose the nomination of Loretta E. Lynch for Attorney General of the United States,” the letter from House Republicans to Senate Judiciary Committee members—a copy of which was provided to Breitbart News—reads. “Article II, Section 2 of our Constitution regarding approving Presidential nominees includes the power, even the obligation, for the Senate to withhold consent when there are questions about a nominee’s fitness. Since this important power is vested in the Senate alone, we write to you to express our very serious concerns with Ms. Lynch and to urge each of you to withhold consent and reject her nomination.”
Signers of the Bridenstine letter at this time, according to a source in his office, include: Reps. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), Brian Babin (R-TX), Randy Weber (R-TX), Mo Brooks (R-AL), John Fleming (R-LA), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Andy Harris (R-MD), Austin Scott (R-GA), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Ted Poe (R-TX), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Roger Williams (R-TX), Steve King (R-IA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Dave Brat (R-VA). Bridenstine is currently gathering more signatures before his planned public release of the letter later this week.
They note that Lynch has served the country honorably as a U.S. Attorney, but say her testimony during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings was troublesome.
“We appreciate Ms. Lynch for her many years of outstanding service to our nation,” the House Republicans write. “Nonetheless, having observed her nomination hearing testimony, we can only conclude that she has no intention of departing in any meaningful way from the policies of Attorney General Eric Holder, who has politicized the Department of Justice and done considerable harm to the administration of justice.”
They cite specific concerns with Lynch’s defense of Holder’s handling of Operation Fast and Furious—for which Holder was held in both criminal and civil contempt of Congress due to his refusal to provide documents to Congress, documents that President Obama has now asserted executive privilege over—and her unwillingness to support the appointment of a truly independent special prosecutor to oversee the investigation of the IRS scandal.
“When given chances to differentiate herself from Attorney General Holder, she chose not to,” the House Republicans write.
When asked what she would have done differently from Attorney General Holder’s handling of the Fast and Furious controversy, she gave a non-responsive answer, saying “I’m not able to really categorically answer one way or the other as to how that’s been managed.” And when asked whether, unlike Attorney General Holder, she would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service, she deflected the question, saying “[m]y understanding is that that matter has been considered and that the matter has been resolved to continue with the investigation as currently set forth.”
Even more troubling to the Republican House members, though, is Lynch’s support of Obama’s executive amnesty for millions of illegal aliens—something that Obama has circumvented Congress to do.
“Our larger concern is with Ms. Lynch’s apparent unwillingness to stand up to the President and his unconstitutional efforts to circumvent Congress and enlarge the powers of his office,” they write.
As Attorney General, Ms. Lynch would be called upon to swear an oath to the Constitution, not to the President. Unfortunately, her largely non-responsive answers to numerous questions about the scope of the President’s power to suspend enforcement of the laws give us every reason to doubt that she will be able to fulfill her oath to the Constitution.
The president’s executive amnesty policy, they wrote, “gives us great concern” because of the fact that under “the guise of exercising ‘prosecutorial discretion,’ the President has erected a bureaucratic apparatus to accept millions of applications from illegal immigrants, grant them ‘deferred action’ from deportation, and then issue them authorizations to work, all without Congress’s approval.”
“When asked whether she agreed with the legal rationale concocted to justify the President’s actions, she said that she found it to be ‘reasonable,’ the obvious implication being, of course, that she would continue to follow it,” the House Republicans write. “And indeed, not once during the hearing did Ms. Lynch ever disavow—or even question—the legality of the President’s actions.”
They write also that Congress should be expected to reject the president’s nominees when he oversteps like he did with amnesty.
Although the President’s nominee cannot reasonably be expected to publicly oppose the President’s policies, the Attorney General has an independent duty to uphold and defend the Constitution,” they write. “We contend that, at the very least, you should reject Ms. Lynch’s nomination to register your disapproval with this Administration’s persistent, lawless conduct. Refusing to confirm the President’s nominees is but one of several important, constitutionally provided tools, and we urge you to employ it here. Anything less would be an abdication of Congress’s responsibility to check the President when he exceeds his constitutional powers, as this President has done on countless occasions. A vote for this nominee should fairly be considered a vote in favor of the President’s lawlessness and against the will of the American people.
What’s more, the House Republicans are asking the Senate Judiciary Committee members to reject Lynch’s nomination in Committee—a significant development if that were to happen.
“We respectfully ask that you refuse to vote Ms. Lynch out of the committee, and that you return her nomination to the President,” they write.
Several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have already announced opposition to Lynch’s nomination. They include: Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said in early February he is undecided on Lynch’s nomination, but did say on the campaign trail that he would oppose any nominee for attorney general who supports Obama’s executive amnesty—and therefore if he does support her, he would be violating a campaign pledge.
Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) has come out against Lynch’s nomination because of her public support for Obama’s executive amnesty.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has said he will support Lynch, as has Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is also likely to support Lynch. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), is likely to personally oppose her in the end given some of her positions, though Grassley hasn’t given any indication one way or the other yet how he’ll vote.
Since there are 20 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee—nine of whom are Democrats, all likely to support Lynch—there would need to be GOP unity on the committee against her nomination to block it on the committee. So Sens. Flake, Hatch and Graham would need to reverse their current positions on her.
Having House Republicans including Stewart from Utah, Duncan from South Carolina and Schweikert and Gosar from Arizona—home states to Hatch, Graham and Flake, respectively—signing onto this Bridenstine letter means those senators will feel the heat back home no matter what they do.
Sen. Vitter noted in a statement last week that the nomination has been stalled, for now at least, because of new questions about Lynch’s role in choosing to not prosecute HSBC bank officials who engaged in money laundering for the Mexican drug cartels, terrorists and the rogue government of Iran. As U.S. Attorney, Lynch instead decided to accept a government fine in a settlement with HSBC–despite the fact she potentially had enough evidence to criminally prosecute the bankers.