Sen. Rand Paul will oppose—very publicly—the nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General of the United States.
The Kentucky Republican is unveiling his opposition to Lynch on Greta Van Susteren’s On The Record program on Fox News.
Earlier Wednesday, in his office in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, Breitbart News watched as the senator’s legal and press team briefed him final time before the interview. Sergio Gor, Paul’s communications director, his press secretary Eleanor May and attorney Brian Darling were all present.
Paul asked the team about Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) question during Lynch’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing about whether she’d oppose using a drone to kill an American citizen on American soil.
When Paul heard about her non-answer—she wouldn’t commit that the federal government does not have such authority—he was incredulous. Furthermore, Paul was appalled that Lynch came out in favor of President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty and the use of asset forfeiture—where the federal government seizes people’s property sometimes with flimsy reasoning, something even the Obama administration has offered slight opposition to—and then told his office staff he’s going to oppose her and aim to derail her nomination chances. “Oh, she’s going down,” Paul said to the room.
“I think ideally you want an attorney general who, if there were a problem, would be independent and objective looking at the executive branch,” Paul said in a previous interview with Breitbart News this past weekend aboard a flight to Dallas, Texas, where he had several speaking engagements and publicly welcomed Texas GOP chairman Steve Munisteri to his likely 2016 presidential campaign.
That’s kind of what you want an attorney general to do. I’m concerned that a big part of her fame as a federal prosecutor was through civil forfeiture. She was asked specifically about this by Sen. Lee, and her response was ‘oh, everything is fine, it’s done with a court order.’ She seems to not quite understand that innocent people are having their stuff taken by government–their cars, their money, their hotels, their stuff is being confiscated by government even if they’re never charged or even if they’re never convicted. She didn’t seem to grasp that point and this is a week after parts of the administration said they were not going to enforce some of the civil forfeiture.
Paul added that while “that alone”–Lynch’s position on civil forfeiture–would be enough for him to oppose her nomination, her position on Obama’s executive amnesty was even more troubling.
“The separation of powers is probably the most important underpinning of our constitutional system,” Paul said last week. “If her position is that the executive branch can write laws or amend laws, that would be a real problem with me.”
Paul isn’t a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee so he didn’t sit in on the hearings. He joins Cruz, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in announcing his opposition. Cruz has called on Senate Republicans to join together in public opposition to Lynch’s nomination until Obama reverses his executive amnesty.
“For several months now, I have called on the Senate majority leader to halt confirmations of every nominee executive and judicial, other than vital national security positions, unless or until the president rescinds his unconstitutional amnesty,” Cruz told Politico in an interview. “We have an opportunity in front of us right now with Loretta Lynch — a nominee for attorney general — who has fully embraced and flat-out promised to implement the unconstitutional amnesty.”
Sen. Sessions, another senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the chairman of that committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, came out in public opposition to Lynch’s nomination right after she wrapped her testimony:
The legal opinion attempting to justify this circumvention of Congress was issued by the Attorney General’s Office of Legal Counsel. At the outset of this nomination process, I said that no Senator should vote to confirm anyone for this position—the top law enforcement job in America—who supported the President’s unlawful actions. Congress must defend its constitutional role, which is clearly threatened. Unfortunately, when asked today whether she found the President’s actions to be ‘legal and constitutional,’ Ms. Lynch said that she did. I therefore am unable to support her nomination.
Paul’s opposition comes just hours after the Senate’s number two Republican, Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, announced his opposition to Lynch.
“While she has an impressive record as United States Attorney, as you know, she will become the chief advocate for the President’s policies as Attorney General, and her testimony expressing support for the President’s unconstitutional executive action, and for her support for a number of the President’s other policies, make it impossible for me to vote for her nomination,” Cornyn said on a conference call with Texas reporters on Wednesday, according to a release his office sent out.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told Politico that “absolutely” he would let Lynch have a floor vote.
“I can’t imagine any circumstance in which a president’s nominee for a Cabinet position would not be given a courtesy of a vote on the floor of the Senate,” McConnell said.
But if McConnell allows her to the floor, he’d almost certainly be allowing her confirmation—even if he personally votes against her. Doing so may be considered by many who supported his re-election efforts against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes a violation of a pre-election promise McConnell made to voters and the public that any nominee for Attorney General—Lynch hadn’t been picked yet—who supports Obama’s executive amnesty shouldn’t be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
“As attorney general, Eric Holder too often put political and ideological commitments ahead of the rule of law,” McConnell said in his pre-election statement. “That’s not something the American people expect in the nation’s highest law-enforcement official, and it’s something Mr. Holder’s replacement should commit to avoiding at all costs as a condition of his or her confirmation — whether it relates to the President’s acting unilaterally on immigration or anything else.”
McConnell’s office refuses to say whether the Majority Leader will personally support or oppose Lynch’s nomination until the Senate Judiciary Committee makes an official recommendation. But Paul also vowed to block a pro-amnesty AG nominee (so did Cruz, Lee and Sessions) before the election hours before McConnell joined him. Given their close relationship due to Paul’s work to help McConnell through a GOP primary in Kentucky last year, Paul’s very public opposition to Lynch could open the floodgates in the Senate.
Paul frequently uses Senate procedures aggressively when he wants something done, for example leading a 13-hour talking filibuster against drones on the very question Lynch didn’t answer from Cruz. It remains to be seen if he, or anyone else, will go to those lengths on this nomination battle.
But there’s definitely buzz on Capitol Hill that it just might come to that because the support of even a few Republicans in the Senate, potentially Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) or Jeff Flake (R-AZ) could ensure Lynch’s confirmation even if all the other Republicans vote no.