President Obama has outraged Republicans by directly appointing six officials this week without the consent of Congress, including his pick for deputy attorney general, who once compared the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to the drug trade.
The president announced the so-called recess appointments Wednesday, using his power to install sidelined nominees while Congress is on break. They will still need to be confirmed by the Senate before the end of the next session, but the recess appointments allow Obama to break a series of logjams and fill positions that have been vacant for months.
Obama appointed four new U.S. ambassadors, along with the U.S. public printer and the deputy attorney general.
The latter, James Cole, had been in limbo since he was nominated in May, though his name did clear the Senate Judiciary Committee over the summer. Republicans had questioned his past consulting work with bailed-out insurance giant AIG but had been particularly critical of his stance on prosecuting terror suspects.
That concern flared up again after Obama installed Cole on Wednesday. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, accused Cole of wanting to pursue terror suspects as a criminal matter in civilian courts. He cited a 2002 Legal Times column in which Cole called the Sept. 11 attacks “criminal acts of terrorism against a civilian population” – like the Oklahoma City bombing.