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Leahy Wants Holder Hearings In Early January

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) wants to move swiftly to bring Justice about, he said after meeting with Obama's nominee for Attorney General, Eric Holder, this afternoon.

The Judiciary Committee chairman said he will schedule confirmation hearings in early January for Holder and whatever other Justice appointees Obama sends up. The goal is to have them ready to be voted on immediately after the inauguration so that Holder and his aides, Leahy said, can arrive at the building January 20th and say, "Okay, justice is back." (To demonstrate the high priority Leahy was giving Holder's confirmation, he noted that he'd be missing some of the finest skiing Vermont offers by holding early-January hearings.)

Leahy called Holder a "prosecutor's prosecutor" and said that he had just spoken with a Republican, former FBI cheif Louis Freeh, who agreed with his description. Freeh, said Leahy, requested to speak on behalf of Holder before he's confirmed.

After the meeting, Holder declined to answer questions about his support of a pardon for fugitive financier Marc Rich. Leahy, while not defending the pardon or Holder's role in it, put the blame on President Clinton. "Eric Holder could have grabbed the pen out of his hand," Leahy said, and Clinton still would have issued the pardon.

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