WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON -- A Senate committee signaled yesterday that it planned to proceed with a confirmation hearing for Attorney General-designate Michael B. Mukasey without documents from the White House that it once deemed critical to investigating suspected abuses under Alberto R. Gonzales.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in a letter to Mukasey yesterday that he intended to hold the nominee to a higher standard in light of the administration's refusal to turn over subpoenaed materials about the politically charged firing last year of nine U.S. attorneys and other matters.
Aides said that Leahy would continue to press that investigation even if Mukasey is confirmed.
But Leahy indicated to Mukasey that he would not use the lack of cooperation from the administration to hold up his nomination. The senator proposed that the men meet privately Oct. 16 to discuss Mukasey's nomination and his views on a variety of subjects.
"Regrettably, the White House has chosen not to clear the decks of past concerns and not to produce the information and material it should have and could have about the ongoing scandals that have shaken the Department of Justice and led to the exodus of its former leadership," Leahy wrote. "Those matters now encumber your nomination and, if confirmed, your tenure."
Mukasey has garnered broad support from Democrats and Republicans, but his nomination by President Bush last month has become entangled in ongoing congressional investigations into allegations of politicization of the department that drove Gonzales from office.
The White House pressed the case for swifter confirmation yesterday.
"Members of the committee have been outspoken about the vacancies [at the Department of Justice], and they have an opportunity to do something about it by confirming him swiftly," press secretary Dana Perino said.
Richard B. Schmitt writes for the Los Angeles Times.