Washington Post 
Saturday, Jan 10, 2008
Eric H. Holder Jr. is facing increasing resistance to his bid to become the next attorney general, emerging from President-elect Barack Obama’s Cabinet nominees as the prime target of Senate Republicans, both because of troubling episodes during his service in the Clinton administration and because of the sensitivity of the post overseeing the Justice Department.
With two days of confirmation hearings set to begin Thursday, Holder must demonstrate his independence from Obama to a vocal chorus of GOP lawmakers who want to warn the incoming president that he should not veer too far to the left on national security and judicial nominations. The attorney general plays a pivotal role in those issues, which are of intense concern to conservatives.
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What was considered a smooth path to confirmation has recently been complicated as signs of hostility toward Holder have increased over the past month. Political operative Karl Rove and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for example, singled out the longtime Washington lawyer as the candidate who would face bruising questions.
“The attorney general nominee, Mr. Holder, has got serious questions to respond to with regard to his role in the . . . pardons at the end of the Clinton administration and some other matters,” McConnell said yesterday. “Beyond that, I don’t anticipate trouble for the new president’s nominees.”
The confirmation process, said Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the judiciary panel’s top Republican, will be Holder’s “day in court” and a chance to “state his case” — an awkward position for a man more accustomed to negotiating disputes than engaging in bare-knuckled fights.