Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I greatly respect my friend from Alabama, Senator Sessions, although I come to a different conclusion in regard to Jim Cole.
I have worked with Jim Cole. I was part of a legislative committee in the House of Representatives that had to do some very difficult work on an ethics issue involving a former Speaker of the House of Representatives. It was a tough decision to bring together six Members of the House–three Democrats, three Republicans–and do it in a way that would maintain the nonpartisan requirements of an ethics investigation. The atmosphere was very partisanly charged around the work we were doing. I know this sounds familiar. People in Maryland and Connecticut and around the Nation understand we are working in a very partisan environment, and they expect the people who are charged at the Department of Justice to work in a nonpartisan manner.
This is not a partisan position, the Deputy Attorney General. This is a person who is working with the Attorney General, the Nation’s lawyer. We want somebody who has the experience, someone who has the character and commitment to carry out this very important position.
As I said, I have known Jim Cole. He has 13 years’ experience within the Department of Justice. He is a public interest attorney. That has been the largest part of his professional career, the service of public interests. He has always followed policy, not politics. He has a very distinguished career in law, and he is the type of person we like to see within the Department of Justice.
As I pointed out, I worked with Jim Cole when I was in the House of Representatives. We worked on a very difficult investigation involving the former Speaker of the House of Representatives who at the time was Speaker. The chairman of the committee was Porter Goss, a Republican from Florida. Porter Goss’s observations of Jim Cole were that he was a brilliant prosecutor, extraordinarily talented. Then Mr. Goss goes on to say that over time, he brought our committee to a bipartisan cooperation which was desperately needed in order to successfully complete that matter. At the end of the day, the six of us came together in a unanimous recommendation. That is the type of person Jim Cole is. He was professional and put policy ahead of politics.
Former Senator John Danforth testified at Jim Cole’s confirmation hearing. John Danforth is a former Republican Member of the Senate. He called Jim Cole “a lawyer’s lawyer.”
Jim Cole has support from Democrats and Republicans. Former high officials within the Department of Justice have all recommended him, including former Deputy Attorneys General appointed by both Republicans and Democrats.
Let me quote one other person I had hoped would be greatly respected on both sides of the aisle; that is, Fred Fielding, the White House counsel for former President George W. Bush. He said Mr. Cole “combines all the qualities you want in a `citizen public servant’–he understands both sides of the street and is smart and tenacious, and is a person of unquestioned honor and integrity.”
That is what Fred Fielding, the former White House counsel to President Bush said, about Jim Cole.
Jim Cole is supported by former RNC officials and DNC officials because he is nonpartisan. He is a nonpartisan person who has put public interest law as his top priority.
I was listening to Senator Sessions talk about terrorism. We have had a spirited political debate taking place in this country over the best way to bring terrorists to justice. Mr. Cole, however, will always put principle over politics, and he is committed to evaluating each case and matter that comes before him based on the facts and the law. That is what you want from the Department of Justice. They are the values and the character we want in our Nation’s Department of Justice, and Jim Cole will bring that to the Department of Justice–already brought it to the Department of Justice.
The bottom line about Mr. Cole’s approach on fighting terrorists is one I believe we all believe in. We are a nation at war with al-Qaida, the Taliban, and their associated forces. We need tough, aggressive, and flexible policies that recognize the paramount importance of providing the President with the ability to use all of the lawful tools–all of the lawful tools–of our national power to protect the American people and bring terrorists to justice.
Jim Cole believes in that. He is committed to working with the Congress so we use all available tools. We make the judgment in each individual case as to what is the most effective way to bring a terrorist or criminal to justice.
He not only has expertise in handling terrorists and bringing them to justice, he has had very important positions in the Department of Justice supervising the criminal prosecution of white-collar crimes. He understands the full breadth of the Department of Justice and is a very valuable player in making sure the Department of Justice follows in the fine tradition of that agency.
I urge my colleagues to vote to move forward. At least vote to allow this nomination to get an up-or-down vote. This is a very important position: the Deputy Attorney General. We talk about we were sent here to Washington to make tough votes. OK. I do not think this is a tough vote. I think Jim Cole is the best person for this critically important job, and I do not think he is at all a partisan person. I know him well. I know him to be a career type individual who is interested in doing what is right. But this is not a nominee where you should be using a filibuster to prevent an up-or-down vote.
This is a very important position for our country. For the dignity of the Senate and the Department of Justice and the decency of Jim Cole, I urge my colleagues to allow us to go forward with an up-or-down vote on his confirmation, and I urge my colleagues to support his confirmation to be Deputy Attorney General of the United States.