‘Hillbilly Elegy’ senator rebuffs Sen. Dick Durbin’s 4th bid to confirm Chicago federal prosecutor

Chicago
By Chicago 4 Min Read

WASHINGTON — For the fourth time, Ohio GOP Sen. J.D. Vance on Wednesday objected to a move by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to immediately confirm U.S. attorney nominees based in Chicago and Cleveland.

With shifting reasons, Vance, a freshman best known as the author of the memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” has been blocking the confirmations of April Perry, nominated to be U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Rebecca Lutzko, tapped to be the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“Each time I’ve come to the floor to ask,” Durbin said, Vance “has come up with a different explanation for why he’s blocking their confirmation.”

Lutzko has been the interim U.S. attorney since June in a district covering Cleveland, Toledo, Akron and Youngstown.

Vance at the start of this showdown, blocked the confirmation of four U.S. attorney nominees, though he relented on two of them last Friday, letting the Senate hold roll call votes to confirm Todd Gee, to be U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, and Tara McGrath, to be U.S attorney for the Southern District of California.

Two weeks ago, Durbin, the Senate Judiciary Committee chair, started going to the Senate floor to ask for immediate confirmation of the federal prosecutor nominees by a procedure known as “unanimous consent,”  which saves the Senate time compared to what it takes to put a roll call vote in place.

An individual senator has the power to put a hold on a nominee and prevent confirmation by unanimous consent.

Vance initially said he was holding the four to protest the Justice Department indictments against former President Donald Trump. After he relented on Gee and McGrath, he said other senators besides himself had a hold on Perry, though Durbin said that turned out not to be true.

Vance attacked Perry for working for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx during the time of the controversy surrounding Foxx over her handling of the alleged hate crimes case against actor Jussie Smollet.

On Wednesday, Vance said his hold on Perry and Lutzko was about more than Trump.

He made a false claim against President Joe Biden when he said, “I do think it’s preposterous banana republic stuff that the President of the United States has tried to throw his opponent in jail in the middle of a presidential election. But this isn’t just about Donald Trump.

“This is about a pro-life father of seven who was harassed and arrested in front of his children, like a common criminal. This is about parents who were investigated by the FBI for peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights at school board meetings. This is about a Department of Justice that seems far more interested in politics than in justice. And so long as that is true, Senator, I will certainly continue to implement my hold policy.”

Vance did go on to ask Durbin to hold a roll call vote. It’s not certain if Vance would lift his hold were Durbin to take steps to hold a roll call vote.

Durbin noted that even if the Justice Department were not pursuing Trump, the former president would still be facing criminal charges filed by a state prosecutor in Georgia and defending himself in a New York state courtroom on business fraud charges.

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