Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) attempted to shame Senate Republicans on Thursday, saying that they had turned confirmation hearings for the next attorney general into a “soundbite factory for Fox News.”
On the second day of hearings for the confirmation of Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s pick to head the Department of Justice, Whitehouse noted that Republicans were more focused on attacking current Attorney General Eric Holder and the administration than the business at hand.
Whitehouse pointed out that one of the witnesses believed that there was a government conspiracy to hack her computers over Benghazi, one witness was concerned that the Obama administration had overstepped its executive authority, a sheriff was invited to “critique Eric Holder’s tenure,” and a conservative activist was on hand to insist that requiring IDs to vote did not suppress minority voters.
“There are plenty of forums were the attorney general would have an opportunity to defend himself,” Whitehouse explained. “This is not one. There is no forum here, there is no opportunity here for Attorney General Holder to answer these various charges that have been made. 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.”
“I have no problem with the attacks,” he added. “My problem is choosing this forum for them when 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.”
“I regret that this hearing and this solemn occasion has been co-opted to that extent, and turned into what appears to be a soundbite factory for Fox News and conspiracy theorists everywhere.”
Watch the video below from C-SPAN, broadcast Jan. 29, 2015.