Senate Republicans block Justice Department nominee

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Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Monday in Paris that the United States is still committed to closing the detention facility for terrorism suspects at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, despite missing a self-imposed deadline to do so.

“We think that by closing that facility, the national security of the United States will be enhanced,” he said.

Mr. Cole was a Justice Department official for 13 years before entering private law practice in 1992. During his first stint with the department, he served as deputy chief of the public integrity section, which investigates and prosecutes corruption cases of elected and appointed officials at all levels of government.

Mr. Cole was named a partner at the law firm Bryan Cave LLP in 1995, specializing in white-collar defense. He served as special counsel for the House ethics committee in its 1997 investigation of House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Some Republicans also voiced concerns about Mr. Cole’s role as an independent monitor for American International Group Inc. that began in the years prior to the company’s financial troubles, which surfaced in 2008.

Mr. Grassley said confidential reports he has read suggest Mr. Cole’s handling of the AIG case “reveal what appears to be a level of deference to AIG management one would not expect to see from someone tasked as an ‘independent’ monitor.’ “

Mr. Cole is only the second Obama nominee to be successfully filibustered by Republicans during his presidency. Last year, Republicans used the maneuver to block Craig Becker, whom the president had tabbed to be on the National Labor Relations Board.

After Mr. Becker’s rejection, the president appointed him to the board temporarily during a congressional break. His recess term also expires at the end of the year unless confirmed by the Senate - a move that appears more in doubt, given the outcome of Mr. Cole’s vote.

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