- Attorney general, House Republicans have no imminent clashes
- Eric Holder sometimes has had difficulties with White House
- He hopes for cordial exchanges on policies
Washington (CNN) — “It could be a bumpier road,” a smiling Attorney General Eric Holder said to a reporter in a recent casual conversation at the Justice Department.
His aides say, however, there is no reason to expect that road contains unmanageable potholes or insurmountable barriers.
In fact, Holder exudes confidence as he acknowledges the Republican-led House is likely to press him on a range of controversial issues. He has heard most of the arguments before from disgruntled GOP lawmakers when they were in the minority.
— Are al Qaeda operatives mere criminals or are they terrorists bent on perpetual war against the United States and the West?
— Why insist on closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison, while supporting indefinite detention for some inmates?
— Why not admit the obvious and acknowledge alleged 9/11 mastermind Khaled Sheik Mohammed will not be tried in a civilian court?
— Why hasn’t the founder of WikiLeaks, responsible for the release of classified documents, been indicted?
— Were the New Black Panthers given a break because they were black and those allegedly intimidated at the polls were white?
— Why do you challenge Arizona’s immigration law, while ignoring “sanctuary cities”?
— Aren’t Justice policies paving the way for the legal use of marijuana?
These and other potentially partisan flash points are likely to be raised over time — but are apparently not imminent. The House Judiciary Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over Holder’s department, has made clear it’s going to respond first to the public demand to fix the economy and help provide jobs.
Mild-mannered Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is not confrontational by nature, and aides say he plans to stick to the script from House Speaker John Boehner’s team.
“The Judiciary Committee will support industries that employ millions of Americans by protecting their patents and copyrights,” Smith said.
That’s hardly a recipe for gaining public or media attention, but will be welcomed by Holder’s Justice Department.
“I hope that we’ll be able to focus on things that are not going to be politically attractive, but will be of substance and things that have an impact on the day to day lives of the American people,” Holder said.
Holder and Smith know each other. They have socialized at the White House and at a Washington Redskins game. Holder recently hosted Smith for a private lunch.