Friday night news dump: Dawn Johnsen withdraws nomination for DOJ post 

Dawn Johnsen, the White House's to be Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice, has withrawn her nomination. Johnsen was immediately a controversial pick for having some pretty extreme opinions, including having once argued that opposing abortion was tantamount to being in favor of slavery.

Johnsen was also controversial because there was a good deal of speculation that she was already doing important work at the DOJ despite not being confirmed by the Senate. (For more background on Johnsen, see here.) Johnsen allegedly withdrew due to GOP objections to her criticism of Bush era terror policies:

President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel has withdrawn her bid for confirmation, after several Republicans objected to her criticism of the Bush administration's terrorist interrogation policies.

Dawn Johnsen's withdrawal — a setback for the Obama administration — was announced late Friday by the White House on a day the capital's legal and political elites were absorbed in the news that Justice John Paul Stevens would retire from the Supreme Court.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had recommended Johnsen's confirmation on party-line votes. But several Republicans objected to her sharp criticisms of terrorist interrogation policies under President George W. Bush, and the full Senate never voted on her nomination.

Despite many substantive objections to Johnsen, the White House is blaming "politics":

In announcing Johnsen's withdrawal, both she and the White House blamed what they called politically motivated opposition.

"Restoring OLC [Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel] to its best nonpartisan traditions was my primary objective for my anticipated service in this administration," Johnsen said in a statement. "Unfortunately, my nomination has met with lengthy delays and political opposition that threaten that objective and prevent OLC from functioning at full strength."

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said Obama "believes it is time for the Senate to move beyond politics and allow the Office of Legal Counsel to serve the role it was intended to — to provide impartial legal advice and constitutional analysis to the executive branch."

Also, this Friday night news dump in the Obama administraion is becoming embarassingly common.

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Mark Hemingway

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