- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2001

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said the panel will proceed tomorrow with the confirmation of Theodore Olson as solicitor general, brushing aside Democrats calls for a prolonged background investigation.

"Yes, sir," Sen. Orrin G. Hatch told The Washington Times when asked yesterday if the Olson nomination would go forward this week. "There´s no good reason to" delay the hearing further.

"I don´t see any reason why we have to go through some large-scale investigation," the Utah Republican said. "Ted´s a good man. My gosh, when you think about all the people put through without nit-picking at every little issue that came up. It´s infuriating, infuriating."

But committee Democrats said yesterday they still have questions about Mr. Olson´s purported involvement in a conservative magazine´s investigative articles on President Clinton, and may seek to further delay or block the nomination at the committee level, which has nine members from each party.

In a letter yesterday to Mr. Hatch, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking committee Democrat, pressed for a "bipartisan review" of Mr. Olson´s involvement in the so-called "Arkansas Project" conducted by American Spectator magazine.

Mr. Hatch said committee Democrats are playing politics, not examining the merits of the candidate.

"That´s all they´ve been doing," he said. "That´s all they´ve been doing since we started this year, slowing things down as much as they could."

Mr. Hatch said in yesterday´s interview that he is satisfied that Mr. Olson´s testimony before the committee absolves him of any involvement in the investigative reporting project. He said he will provide the committee with several letters from people connected to the case who support Mr. Olson´s position.

"We´re trying to solve their objections," Mr. Hatch said. "We´ll have letters from virtually everybody involved, backing Ted Olson. And that should do it."

Mr. Hatch said Mr. Olson has acquitted himself well against the statements of former magazine author David Brock that Mr. Olson participated in "brainstorming sessions" about the Arkansas Project.

"If you look at his testimony, vis-a-vis the article, it doesn´t hurt his testimony at all," Mr. Hatch said. "Let´s say it did. Let´s say that he differs with David Brock. Well, so what? You certainly give the edge to the person who´s the nominee. It should resolve itself. It´s a tempest in a teapot. He is one of the finest nominations we could possibly have."

Nevertheless, Mr. Leahy´s office yesterday released a summary of supposed "discrepancies" in Mr. Olson´s testimony before the committee. For example, Mr. Olson told the panel in writing April 19 that he was not aware of any meetings of the Arkansas Project at his law office in 1993 or 1994, but he told the committee on April 25 that he did remember meetings in the summer of 1997 at his law firm about the project.

Mr. Leahy also wants Mr. Olson to provide the billing records of his law firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, to examine the nature of legal services he provided for the magazine. The senator said a 1995 audit of the Arkansas Project´s books showed that it paid more than $14,000 to Mr. Olson´s law firm from March to August 1994.

"Interestingly, the first payment came just a few weeks after the Spectator published, in February 1994, a scathing hit piece against both Bill and Hillary Clinton called 'Criminal laws implicated by the Clinton scandals: A partial list´," the Democratic staff memo states. "Olson was one of its two co-authors."

Mr. Olson joined the board of the magazine in 1996 and told the committee he did not learn of the Arkansas Project until mid-1997.

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