- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2001

President Bushs nomination of Theodore B. Olson to be the Justice Departments solicitor general will be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, Republican officials on the panel said yesterday.
Mr. Olsons nomination was held up by Democrats on the committee last week after a story in The Washington Post raised doubts about his candor in answer to questions about his work for the American Spectator magazine, during a period when it published a series of articles about former President Bill Clinton preceding the Monica Lewinsky scandal and his impeachment.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, the committees chairman, is "optimistic" that Mr. Olson's nomination will be approved by the committee this week. "Mr. Olson has been forthright in his answers to the committee and will eventually be confirmed," said his spokeswoman, Margarita Tapia.
Mr. Olson, a Washington lawyer who specializes in constitutional law, successfully represented Mr. Bush before the U.S. Supreme Court during the monthlong political and legal battle with Al Gore over Floridas 25 electoral votes in last years postelection debacle. The solicitor general argues cases before the high court on behalf of the federal government.
Mr. Olsons nomination was expected to have been swiftly cleared by the committee last week. However, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the committee, asked for a delay after the story appeared in The Post, reprising Democratic charges that Mr. Olson had acted improperly as an attorney for the American Spectator.
Mr. Olson said he did legal work for the magazine and had social meetings with the journals founder and editor in chief, R. Emmett Tyrrell, and other Spectator editors. He said he played no role in the articles about Mr. Clintons womanizing while governor of Arkansas and other scandals that occurred before and during his presidency.
Mr. Tyrrell and David Henderson, the editor who directed what became known, jocularly, at the magazine as "the Arkansas Project," have both said Mr. Olson had nothing to do with the investigative series.
In a letter to Mr. Olson last week, Mr. Leahy said he was "troubled by your responses and lack of responsiveness" to questions the senator had asked him.
Mr. Olson replied that he had answered "each question accurately. I have attempted to answer them fully, except to the extent that they sought privileged communications with clients, which I am not permitted to disclose."
In a letter to Mr. Leahy last week, Mr. Olson said: "It seems important to emphasize again that the American Spectator magazine was engaged in journalistic endeavors protected under the First Amendment, and I am not aware of any law that was violated by the magazine."
Mr. Leahy, in a letter to Mr. Tyrrell, demanded certain documents that were the result of the magazine's reporting, raising in turn accusations that the senator had attempted to chill the magazine's pursuit of legitimate journalism. In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal called the Post story "a classic piece of journalistic insinuation without actually accusing Mr. Olson of anything real."
One line of Democratic questioning dealt with David Hale, an Arkansas businessman and municipal court judge who was a key witness in the Whitewater investigation and who was convicted of fraud. When Mr. Leahy asked how Mr. Olson came to represent Mr. Hale, the Washington lawyer said "some lawyers contacted me I cant recall the mans name and asked if I would be available."
Mr. Henderson, who supervised the Spectator reporting project, has since said that he introduced Mr. Hale to Mr. Olson, but Democratic investigators on Mr. Leahys committee staff said he did not mention Mr. Henderson in his testimony or in subsequent follow-up answers in writing.
Mr. Hatch took issue with the Post story, which reported that "former Spectator staff writer David Brock has told the Judiciary Committee that Olson was directly involved in the Arkansas project."
"I would like the record to be clear on this," Mr. Hatch said in a statement. "Neither I, nor anyone on my staff has at any time been contacted by Mr. Brock concerning the reported allegations or any other matter related to Mr. Olson. If Mr. Brock contacted Committee Democrats about these matters, those contacts were never shared with me or my staff."
Senior staffers working for the Democrats on the committee told The Washington Times that they called Mr. Brock after Mr. Olson testified. Mr. Brock, a one-time editorial writer for The Washington Times, was the author of several of the magazines Clinton exposes. He subsequently wrote a flattering biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"Senator Leahys staff, knowing Brock was involved in some of these meetings, was able to reach him and read back those answers by Olson and asked him if that was an accurate depiction of what happened," a top aide to Mr. Leahy told The Times. "Mr. Brock had additional details about those meetings," the aide said. He declined to disclose what those details were.
Mr. Hatch has scheduled a committee vote on Mr. Olsons nomination for Thursday.


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