Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) expressed irritation at the attacks leveled against outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder during the nomination hearings for his potential replacement, Loretta Lynch.
“I regret that this hearing and this solemn occasion has been co-opted to that extent and turned into what appears for a sound bite factory for Fox news and conspiracy theorists everywhere,” the Rhode Island lawmaker charged during Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
According to Whitehouse, the Judiciary Committee hearings are an inappropriate forum to criticize the current attorney general, especially given he is not present to defend himself.
“There is no forum here, there is no opportunity here for Attorney General Holder to answer these various charges that have been made,” he said. “I think that is fundamentally unjust and I think it is frankly beneath the dignity of this committee at a time when we have a very significant and solemn charge before us: to determine the fitness of a specific individual to be attorney general of the united states, to launch a series of unanswerable attacks.”
Holder has not been at the hearings, but his tenure as attorney general has played a role in them, with many GOP lawmakers pushing to ensure that Lynch will not be a repeat of Holder.
Whitehouse said he does not have a problem with the attacks as much as he has an issue with the criticism occurring at a committee hearing dealing with the nomination of a different person.
“My problem is the choosing this forum for [attacks] where the other the individual in question has no chance to answer — I think fails President Washington’s test that ‘one speak not evil of the absent for it is unjust,’” Whitehouse said.
He continued to say there are other avenues to discuss the issues of concern that have been raised.
“With respect to the other issues, I think we will have plenty of time to ventilate those in other forums,” he added. “I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time to address immigration, address voter ID and voter suppression, address surveillance, address all of those things but once again in this forum, there’s no opportunity for another side to be presented.”