Incoming Judiciary Chairman on Holder: We Have ‘a Good Working Relationship’
By Andrew Ramonas | December 13, 2021 2:59 pm

Incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) told Politico that he has “a good working relationship” with Attorney General Eric Holder even though they have different opinions on key law enforcement matters.

Lamar Smith (Getty Images)

Smith said he won’t be quick to subpoena Justice Department officials in his committee’s oversight of the DOJ when he takes the panel gavel from Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) in January, despite a threat he made last fall to “issue subpoenas and find out what this administration has been doing that the American people don’t know.” The congressman, currently the top House Judiciary Republican, often pushed the DOJ over the last two years for more information on its policies, especially on national security issues.

The incoming chairman told the newspaper in a story published Monday that subpoenas are for “extraordinary circumstances.” The Republican, who met with Holder two weeks ago, said he expects the DOJ to cooperate with the committee.

“Obviously, there’s issues that we disagree on, some issues that we agree on,” Smith told Politico. “I consider us to have a good working relationship, and he’s looking forward to coming to testify before the Judiciary Committee.”

The incoming chairman has put efforts to enforce immigration laws, reform the patent system, fight child sexual exploitation, combat lawsuit abuse and improve national security on the top of his agenda.

Smith has been particularly critical of Holder’s support for the reading of Miranda warnings to terrorism suspects and his now-withdrawn decision to try self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and alleged accomplices in a New York federal court. The administration of President Barack Obama is now considering the use of military commissions as an option for the prosecutions of those Guantanamo Bay detainees after Republicans and Democrats raised concerns about Holder’s initial proposal.

Smith and his Republican colleagues have increased their attacks on the Attorney General’s support for using civilian courts to prosecute some terrorism suspects after a federal jury’s acquittal last month of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Guantanamo Bay detainee, on all but one count in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa.

The House, which is still under Democratic control, last week approved legislation that would ban the Obama administration from prosecuting Guantanamo Bay detainees in civilian courts until Sept. 30. The provision was part of a must-pass continuing resolution to fund the government in the current fiscal year, since Congress has not passed regular appropriations bills.

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