The Boston Globe previews Holder's confirmation hearing today. "The anticipated grilling of Holder … is the latest example of the polarization of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a powerful panel locked in a cycle of tit-for-tat partisan conflict over past judicial nominees, years-old confirmation fights, and breaches of longstanding protocol."
More: "The confirmation fight over Holder, expected to be the most contentious of Obama's Cabinet nominations, could also set the parameters for the president-elect's future judicial appointments, including potential vacancies at the Supreme Court, and demonstrate the strength of the new Republican minority."
The Los Angeles Times adds, "As Eric H. Holder Jr. gears up to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee today for his confirmation as attorney general, some Republicans say they will question him aggressively about whether his ties to Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich are more extensive than Holder has acknowledged. GOP staffers investigating Holder's background say that although he has downplayed his connections to Blagojevich, new information suggests Holder did legal work for Blagojevich on an investigation into the controversial award of a state casino gambling license by the Illinois Gaming Board."
Still, Holder's tough grilling from GOP senators is unlikely to block the committee's recommendation, writes Roll Call. "Republicans said that with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) all but committed to voting for Holder and no panel Democrats interested in voting against him, there is no feasible way he can be blocked at the committee level. 'There's no realistic effort that could be undertaken that would stop him in the committee,' a GOP aide acknowledged."
The New York Times sees today's Holder hearing as two separate trials. "Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are intent on putting the Bush administration on trial, with Mr. Holder cast as a skilled prosecutor with the ability to reverse eight years of what they see as abuses of power in the administration's campaign against terrorism. Republicans appear just as determined to use the hearing to retry the transgressions of the Clinton administration, with Mr. Holder pressed to explain his involvement as deputy attorney general in controversies like the pardon of the fugitive financier Marc Rich and Vice President Al Gore's 1996 fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple."
Is the Obama transition team's Geithner hiccup over? In a conference call with Iowa reporters yesterday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) said that, although Geithner's tax problems are "a little disconcerting," he believes the incoming administration's claim that Geithner's mistake was an honest one that was quickly resolved when discovered. Saying that he has heard no "sneers" at Geithner's expense from his colleagues after yesterday's emergency meeting, the Finance Committee ranking member said "I didn't hear anybody say that they weren't going to vote for him based on this."
Obama continued to express support for Tim Geithner, calling his failure to pay taxes while at the IMF an "innocent mistake."
But a problem for Geithner? The Wall Street Journal: "Timothy Geithner, whose nomination as Treasury secretary has been delayed by his past failure to pay taxes, was repeatedly advised in writing by the International Monetary Fund that he would be responsible for any Social Security and Medicare taxes he owed on income he earned at the IMF between 2001 and 2004."
Here's our confirmation calendar:
-- Thursday: Interior: Sen. Ken Salazar (Energy and Natural Resources Committee)
-- Thursday: Attorney General: Eric Holder (Judiciary Committee)
-- Thursday, 10:00 am ET: Homeland Security: Janet Napolitano (Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee)
-- Thursday, 9:30 am: UN Ambassador: Susan Rice (Foreign Relations Committee)
-- Next Wednesday: Treasury: Tim Geithner (Senate Finance Committee)
NBC's Huma Zaidi notes that after two years on the campaign trail and another four years of hard work ahead of him, Obama wants his daughters to know that he's doing it all for them. At the request of PARADE magazine, Obama wrote a letter to his daughters Malia, 10 and Sasha, 7 in which he says they inspired him to run for president. "When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me -- about how I'd make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want... I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that's why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation."
Obama goes on to say that he hopes both of his daughters will give back to the country by "righting the wrongs" they see and by working to give others the opportunities they've had. And, he signs off "Love, Dad."
The New York Post also picks up on Obama's letter to his daughters in Parade magazine.