Sen. Chuck Grassley, angered by an opinion issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel finding President Barack Obama’s recent recess appointments legal, took aim at the opinion’s author, suggesting that she won’t be confirmed by the Senate again.
The opinion, authored by Assistant Attorney General Virginia A. Seitz earlier this month, found that Congress was in recess when Obama made four recess appointments despite Congressional Republicans’ efforts to gavel in pro forma sessions over the holiday break to prevent such appointments.
“I gave the President and Ms. Seitz the benefit of the doubt in voting to confirm her nomination,” Grassley said in a Senate floor speech Monday, according to Politico. “However, after reading this misguided and dangerous legal opinion, I’m sorry the Senate confirmed her. It’s likely to be the last confirmation she ever experiences.”
Those comments rankled some OLC attorneys from previous administrations, who said such blackball threats are dangerous.
“OLC lawyers should be free to render their honest opinion and not be threatened with adverse career consequences by either the White House or Congress,” Richard Painter, a White House ethics lawyer during the Bush administration, told Politico.
“The Senator’s name-calling is misplaced,” said Jack Goldsmith, who helmed the OLC during President George W. Bush’s administration.
President Bill Clinton’s chief OLC attorney Walter Dellinger said he was astonished by Grassley’s comments. “I can’t believe that Senator Grassley has actually read Seitz’s thoughtful and carefully reasoned opinion. And he may not be aware that attorney’s in the administration of President George W. Bush reached the same conclusion that she reached,” Dellinger told Politico.