Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced that there will be a vote next week on whether to confirm Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. Roll Call’s David Hawkings has a fascinating read this morning arguing that the battle over her confirmation is poised to make history — and not, perhaps, in a way that reflects well on its actors.

Hawkings makes the case that if Lynch is confirmed, it will come after the longest wait ever, and likely by the closest vote ever, for confirmation of a nominee for Attorney General. This all flows from the fact that many Republicans have decided to turn the battle over Lynch — who would be the first African American female AG — into one over Obama’s executive actions shielding millions of people from deportation:

As the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, Lynch has earned just the sort of tough but fair reputation that’s customarily made for bipartisan smooth sailing in the Senate. But at least three-quarters of Republicans are going to oppose her anyway, mostly because of a single position she’s taken as the nominee: Obama was on solid legal ground in deferring deportations of as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants…The single biggest reason Republicans oppose Lynch is that she disagrees with them on a single matter of public policy.

Given the nature of this opposition, Hawkings tries to gauge whether there are enough GOP Senators who might support Lynch to get her confirmed. There are the four who have already declared support for her. There are a few others who did not sign the letter to Iran’s leaders, and thus could perhaps be expected to “stand by their chamber’s historic customs” and “give the president broad leeway on Cabinet nominees.” There are a few who also voted for Eric Holder, and a few up for reelection in states carried by Obama. If Lynch gets all those votes, Hawkings calculates, that would still give her “only one more than the 14-year-old record for minimal support for an attorney general.”

As I’ve acknowledged before, Obama’s executive actions certainly take us into new and uncomfortable territory. That doesn’t necessarily make them illegal or even necessarily improper, but it’s perfectly fair for opponents to raise balance of power concerns about them.

But what we’re seeing here is a tendency among many conservatives to cast pretty much every argument between the branches as the ultimate test of whether Republicans are willing to do what it takes to rescue the republic from Obama lawlessness.

Hawkings notes that it’s remarkable that the battle over Lynch is no longer viewed as remarkable, despite being extraordinary by historical standards. I’d only add: It’s also remarkable that the hyping of so many of these fights — into a litmus test of GOP resolve to save the country from Obama tyranny and ruin — is no longer viewed as remarkable.


* DEMOCRATS SEE HILLARY AS THEIR ONLY HOPE: The New York Times talks to a number of senior Democratic officials and donors and finds that many of them see Hillary Clinton as by far the best chance not only to keep the White House, but also to reinvigorate the party’s efforts down the ticket. The two main reasons: Clinton has a broad demographic appeal that could help lift Dem chances in even the most marginal House districts — perhaps putting the Lower Chamber back in play (doubtful, but still) — and help reverse Dem losses on the state level. And Clinton can appeal to big and small donors; liberal activists and Wall Street givers alike.

Perhaps, but I still think the party would benefit from a real Democratic primary; the alternative is a year-and-a-half long Hillary-versus-the-media death struggle.

“The best answer to this is going to be when she starts running for president and is traveling around the country talking about things that people care about,” said longtime Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf.

There is going to be an enormous amount of Democratic hand-wringing every time a bad story comes along. Whether her launch of a real campaign and intensified focus on the issues will change that remains to be seen.

* YES, DEMOCRATS DO HAVE A ‘BENCH’: It’s widely claimed that the lack of any serious primary challenge to Clinton is rooted in the lack of any Democratic “bench” of possible candidates. Jonathan Bernstein has a nice piece debunking this idea, noting that, in fact, there are many credible candidates who have decided not to run because many party actors have already coalesced behind Clinton:

There’s Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor, who is actually running. And Elizabeth Warren. And Andrew Cuomo, Al Franken, Tim Kaine, Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner. Oh, and Michael Bennet, Mike Beebe, Christine Gregoire, Maggie Hassan, Jeanne Shaheen, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hickenlooper and Deval Patrick. They don’t seem presidential?…Had Clinton chosen not to run, plenty of the others would have jumped in, and the field would have been comparable to what the Republicans have put together.

Maybe a few of them should reconsider!

* BILL CLINTON AIDES WORRIED ABOUT HILLARY EMAIL PLAN: The Wall Street Journal adds a bit more interesting detail to the Hillary email story, reporting that Bill Clinton’s advisers privately worried about her request to set up her email account through his private server:

Privately, aides of the former president worried that adding her account would make the system a target for hackers. They also weren’t aware she would use it for all her official correspondence.

In general, beware the use of anonymous sources when it comes to the Clintons; there are dozens and dozens of people out there who claim to be “aides” or “advisers” to them. But still, expect a lot of this kind of drip-drip-drip coverage in the coming weeks or even (sigh) months.


No fewer than three House committees have launched or are considering probes into Clinton’s email practices, a feeding frenzy that could allow the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to cast the investigations as yet another partisan witch-hunt. It could also become a problem for Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team, which has made a point of trying to prevent multiple committees from tripping over themselves investigating the same topic. They’re now working to keep the Clinton investigations on distinct tracks.

Yep, it’s back to the 1990s! If there’s anything that can imperil GOP efforts to capitalize on the email story, it’s the sort of overreach this portends.

* WHY JOHN ROBERTS MIGHT SIDE WITH OBAMACARE: The Economist has a good piece explaining why the Chief Justice could still rule against the challengers in King v. Burwell. There are the federalism concerns we’ve discussed here. And:

There is the matter of the potential disruption to the entire health-care industry that upending Obamacare would entail. Consider how well health-insurers have done under the law. They are enrolling millions more customers, resulting in rising profits and soaring stock prices. Mr. Roberts has long been sensitive to the effect that laws have on American business. A recent study…in the Minnesota Law Review revealed that when it comes to business-friendly justices, John Roberts was second only to Samuel Alito over the nearly seven decades from 1946 to 2013. In recent cases such as Burwell v Hobby Lobby and McCutcheon v FEC, the chief justice has sided with corporate America.

And remember, a ruling against the law could also produce economic disruptions, too.