- The Washington Times - Friday, October 7, 2005

Timothy E. Flanigan withdrew his nomination yesterday, four months after President Bush selected him to be deputy attorney general.

Mr. Flanigan blamed the “uncertainty concerning the timing of my confirmation,” in a letter he wrote to Mr. Bush.

The withdrawal comes as Democrats accused him of being involved in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal and of having ties to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Democrats also criticized him for not having any courtroom experience as a prosecutor.

“Rather than appointing professionals with relevant experience, the Bush administration has promoted a culture of cronyism by tapping political allies and close friends for key positions,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said after the withdrawal. “Mr. Flanigan has no experience as a prosecutor, a characteristic that has become all too common in the leadership of the Justice Department. America can do better than nominations like these.”

Mr. Flanigan, general counsel for Tyco International, was nominated to the No. 2 position at the Department of Justice in May. It is the position most recently held by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

During Mr. Flanigan’s first hearing, Democrats pressed him about his ties to Mr. Abramoff, the casino lobbyist at the center of several federal investigations who lobbied on behalf of Tyco. They also inquired about Mr. Flanigan’s involvement in drafting new administration policy allowing aggressive interrogation techniques to be used on detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Just this week, a rare second hearing was scheduled for Mr. Flanigan as questions from Democrats mounted. The timing of yesterday’s surprise announcement led some Democratic staffers to speculate that Mr. Flanigan — or possibly the embroiled White House — did not want to answer the questions or have them answered.

“Whatever the reasons for the withdrawal of this nomination, the president now has an opportunity to start fresh and pick someone with real prosecutorial experience for this important position,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat and member of the Judiciary Committee. “Hopefully the president realized that this country needs individuals in government who are chosen on the merits, not on ideology or political connections.”

Mr. Schumer added that he would write Mr. Bush a letter asking him to “nominate a career prosecutor with managerial experience.”

Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, theorized that the announcement was made yesterday — a Friday before a holiday weekend — to avoid attracting too much attention to another White House blunder.

“If it’s Friday,” Mr. Burton said in an e-mail, “It’s ‘Meet the Press’ the White House is trying to bury.”

This story is based in part on wire service reports

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