President Obama is going to the mat to defend his controversial nominee to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division – a lawyer who once helped defend a notorious cop-killer – calling Republicans’ efforts to block him a “travesty.”
Debo Adegbile, who once participated in the appeals process for convicted murdered and liberal cult hero Mumia Abu-Jamal, failed to win enough Senate votes to proceed to a final determination on his nomination.
Vice President Joe Biden was on hand to cast a potential tiebreaking vote, but the 47-52 tally included “no” votes from eight Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, effectively killing the nomination.
The White House fired off a scathing statement from the president so quickly that it misspelled Adegbile’s name.
The vote, Obama said in that statement, was “a travesty based on wildly unfair character attacks against a good and qualified public servant.”
“As a lawyer, Mr. Adgebile [sic] has played by the rules,” Obama insisted. “And now, Washington politics have used the rules against him. The fact that his nomination was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant runs contrary to a fundamental principle of our system of justice.”
Reid’s defection to the GOP side wasn’t the only unusual feature of Wednesday afternoon’s stunning defeat for the Obama administration.
In November, Senate Democrats changed the rules that govern the confirmation of presidential nominees, deciding that a cloture vote – the motion to end debate and proceed to a final vote – should no longer require a supermajority of 60 votes to pass.
Instead, such nominees only need 51 votes. But Adegbile fell far short of that lower threshold.