Senator Lindsey Graham was my guest for two segments. We spent most of the time debating his reasons for opposing the president’s bill on military tribunals. I was not persuaded, and hope he fins the time to read this Andrew McCarthy article which I referred him to. Senator Graham has a number of arguments, and shifted from one to the other as the obvious responses to his objections to the Bush bill collapsed pretty quickly under even light pressure.
In addition to this debate Senator Graham expressed continued support for the Judiciary Committee’s NSA surveillance bill, which I had worried he was less than enthusiastic about even after this week’s vote in committee.
We also talked about the botched Judiciary Committee hearing this morning which failed to move nominees out of the committee because of a lack of a quorum. (Senator Graham was one of those who did not appear.) Senator Graham remains confident that Peter Keisler and other judicial nominees will get their votes before the Senate adjourns. I think the Majority Leader has no choice but to hold the Senate in DC until such time as those nominations are dealt with.
Senator Graham also explained that he will vote to discharge DoD General Counsel William Haynes to the floor, though he will not vote for him there. He also stated that the Haynes nomination would not be “extraordinary circumstances” under his understanding of The Gang of 14’s deal, which means that if the Dems attempt to filibuster Haynes, a show-down vote on the Constitutional Option could be forthcoming.
But I remain very concerned that today’s fiasco in Judiciary will combine with the Senate’s endless desire to leave town may cripple these nominee’s right to an up-or-down vote. It is the Majority Leader’s, Chairman Specter’s, and every member of the Judiciary Committee’s job to get these nominees their votes.
UPDATE: Here’s the transcript’s excerpts related to judicial nominations. For the tribunal discusszion, read the whole thing:
HH: Peter Keisler didn’t get out of committee today, because not enough Republicans showed up. Does that doom his confirmation in this session?
LG: No, I don’t think so. He’s a good guy. He’s being held up because of some dispute about the number of judges at a circuit level. It’s got nothing to do with him. Senator Sessions and another senator feel like the circuit they’re in doesn’t have enough judges, and they’re trying to get a better deal.
HH: But of course, that 11th judge had already been filled before…
HH: …and so it’s not really a serious objection. I’m just curious about timing. We lost a week today because of the quorum.
LG: Yeah, no, I think we’re good to go. Our goal is to get before the end of September, at least four or five circuit court guys out, along with four or five district court guys.
HH: And will you vote to send William Haynes to the floor?
LG: He hasn’t yet, but the truth is, I’ll have a hard problem voting for Mr. Haynes. And you know, everybody else, I’m good to go, but I’ll have a hard problem voting for him.
HH: Why is that?
LG: Because I believe that he was a responsible party at the Department of Defense at a time to come up with legal infrastructure in the War On Terror that really confused our troops. And I just don’t want to make sure we put privates and sergeants in jail and fire the colonels. I think there has to be some accountability at the civilian side in the Department of Defense for creating policies that really have hurt the country. He’s a good guy. He’s an honest man, but I just have a hard time reconciling that, and he hasn’t answered all the questions, yet, so I don’t know where he’s going to be. But I will not stop him from coming out of committee. If I don’t vote for him, you can still send it to the floor.
HH: That’s great, because that’s…you know, I respect an honest disagreement with a nominee’s qualifications.
LG: Yeah, I don’t want Lindsey Graham to be the king in the death blow of judges. You know, I’ll vote my conscious, and let the body as a whole take him up. And if he gets fifty votes, fine….
HH: Senator Graham, before we go back to common Article 3, one follow up question. If William Haynes gets to the floor with your vote as you suggested in the first segment, do you consider…
LG: I will vote…I will not…I have the ability to vote no in committee, and still send him to the floor.
HH: Right, right. And so, if he gets to the floor, though, does the gang of 14 deal, in your opinion, apply to him?
LG: You know, the gang of 14 deal was to not filibuster unless there was an extraordinary circumstance, and every Democrats would have to define whether or not that’s an extraordinary circumstance. I don’t believe it’s extraordinary. I would…I just…if I’m voting, I don’t think it’s extraordinary.
LG: I think every Senator should vote, and not block this guy. Mr. Haynes, like everybody else in the pot, deserves a vote.
HH: Perfect. Now let’s go back to common Article 3…