12.10.09

Burr Statement on the Nomination for U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina

U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) made the following statement regarding the nomination for U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

"It has always been my policy not to release or publically discuss judicial recommendations made to the White House. I believe the nominees deserve fair consideration with as little outside influence as possible where decisions can be made on their qualifications and merit. The recent decision to replace US Attorney George Holding at a pivotal time in ongoing investigations demands that I make an exception to that policy in this case.

"In July, I wrote to the President with my recommendations for judicial positions in North Carolina. Included in those recommendations was Thomas Walker. Regarding the US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, I told the President that the current US Attorney, George Holding, should be permitted to remain in his position pending the completion of an ongoing law enforcement investigation and legal action involving political corruption in North Carolina.

"I believe Thomas Walker, who was nominated by the President to be Mr. Holding's successor, is well-qualified to serve as US Attorney, and I support his nomination. 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. Given the importance of these investigations to the people of North Carolina, and in the interest of good governance and transparency, I believe the investigations must be directed by and have the full attention of the US Attorney, and the US Attorney himself must have the full faith of the people of North Carolina. I have concluded that other options in this case are not feasible, nor would they be acceptable to the people of North Carolina.

"As such, I have informed the President through the White House Counsel that I intend to withhold Thomas Walker's blue slip, until the current investigations and subsequent legal actions are concluded. Upon conclusion of those investigations by Mr. Holding, I will sign Mr. Walker's blue slip. Delaying this nomination will ensure that the investigations and potential prosecutions will proceed with impartiality, and in turn provide the public with full confidence that justice is served in an even-handed manner. At the same time, it will allow Mr. Walker to start his tenure as U.S. Attorney free from any unfair specter of speculation and cynicism."