The AP is reporting that Dawn Johnsen is withdrawing her nomination to be the next Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). Early in his administration, President Obama received praise from the legal and progressive community for nominating Johnsen. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald called the pick “Obama’s best yet, perhaps by far.” As evidence, Greenwald highlighted an article in Slate that Johnsen authored in 2008, in which she excoriated John Yoo’s infamous torture memo. Johnsen also sharply criticized the Democratic Congress for legalizing Bush’s surveillance program. Jay Bybee, Bush’s OLC head who went on to authorize illegal torture — won easy confirmation in 2001 through a simple voice vote. However, despite being recommended by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a party-line vote, the Senate stalled Johnsen’s nomination for over a year. Senate Republicans, joined by Ben Nelson (D-NE) and other conservative Democrats, threatened a filibuster. President Obama could have appointed Johnsen during a recent slate of recess appointments, but declined to do so.
President Obama’s choice for Office of Legal Counsel Dawn Johnsen withdraws her nomination.