Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) will hold up the U.S. Attorney nominee for the Eastern District of North Carolina, despite a previous report that he would not delay the confirmation process, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported today.
Senators can hold up a nominee from their state if they do not return a “blue slip” in favor of the nominee. The Republican senator will withhold a “blue slip” from the Senate Judiciary Committee for Eastern District of North Carolina U.S. Attorney nominee Thomas G. Walker — delaying action on the nomination.
Current U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, is overseeing federal probes into former Gov. Mike Easley and Sen. John Edwards, who are both Democrats. Burr said he is worried about Walker’s ties to the two prominent Democrats.
“I believe Thomas Walker, who was nominated by the president to be Mr. Holding’s successor, is well-qualified to serve as U.S. attorney, and I support his nomination,” Burr said in a statement reported by The News & Observer. “It is clear, though, that political contributions made by Mr. Walker to the former North Carolina elected officials currently under investigation represent a conflict of interest, and would potentially require his recusal from those very investigations.”
The senator’s decision will take pressure off of Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), who has worked hard to avoid appearing as if she supports removing a Republican U.S. Attorney from his position overseeing investigations into prominent Democrats.
Hagan recommended Walker for the U.S. Attorney post in July. But she asked the White House to allow Holding to continue his oversight of the two federal investigations.
Since Walker was tapped last week, Hagan has had conversations about Holding’s tenure with Obama administration officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder. The Attorney General gave assurances to Hagan, but the White House has remained mum.
Burr said he will lift his hold on Walker when the probes are finished, according to the Raleigh-based newspaper.