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The memories of Eric Holder loomed over attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hearing as Republicans reminded her over and over again that one of her most appealing qualities is that she’s not him.
The departing attorney general’s name was invoked almost 50 times at Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, prompting Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) at one point to scold his Republican colleagues for bashing someone who wasn’t there to defend himself.
But if Holder fans thought the bashing was rough with Lynch in the hot seat, it’s really just a warm-up for Thursday’s day two hearing, where Republicans have lined up a series of anti-Holder witnesses.
For now, we’ve assembled the top Holder-as-punching-bag moments:
1. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) asked Lynch if she would uphold and defend the Constitution. “Absolutely, sir,” she said.
“I’m glad you said that. Attorney General Holder answered that same question in the same way,” Hatch said, adding that Holder broke his promise and so “he cast doubt about others who make the same commitment as you did today.”
2. John Cornyn (R-Tex.): “Let me just stipulate, you’re not Eric Holder, are you?” Lynch replied, “No, I’m not, sir.”
3. Cornyn, in the same line of questioning, said Holder was “heavy on our minds now” and wondered if Lynch would consider herself “a political arm of the White House as attorney general.”
“No, Senator, that would be a totally inappropriate view of the position of attorney general,” Lynch said.
4. Cornyn couldn’t quite let it go: “So how do we know you’re not going to perform your duties of office as attorney general the way Eric Holder has performed his duties? How are you going to be different?”
“Senator, if confirmed as attorney general, I will be myself. I will be Loretta Lynch,” she said.
5. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) had a similar concern: “And so I want to ask you at the outset the simple question of, if confirmed, how would your tenure as attorney general differ from that of Eric Holder’s?”
“You’ve asked how I will be different from Eric Holder. I will be Loretta Lynch. I will be the person that I’ve always been as I’ve led my office through two terms as United States attorney, focusing solely on the protection of the people of my district, and if confirmed as attorney general, on the protection of all of the American people,” she said.
6. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wanted to know “the biggest mistake that Attorney General Holder made in the handling of the Fast and Furious controversy, which involved this privileged information that we’re talking about, and what would you have done differently?” Lynch said she wasn’t “able to say what the options were that the attorney general had that I would’ve chosen in a different manner.”
“So I’m sorry for not being able to provide you with a direct response to that question,” she added.