Senate confirms nominee amid pushback for torture memos

The Senate confirmed Steven Bradbury to serve as general counsel at the Department of Transportation, amid pushback concerning Bradbury’s role in drafting so-called torture memos during the George W. Bush administration.

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., joined Democrats in voting against Bradbury’s nomination. McCain had been leading an effort to oppose Bradbury and promised on Tuesday to be “on the floor raising hell” against him, due to his involvement drafting memos providing legal grounds for “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

McCain, along with Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., pressed their colleagues to vote against Bradbury in a letter Tuesday.

“When confronted with programs and policies that represented unlawful and potentially unconstitutional violations of prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, Mr. Bradbury not only failed to act decisively to blow the whistle on such abhorrent practices, but he actually played a leading role in seeking to defend the indefensible,” the three wrote.

McCain has been outspoken about not backing any administration nominee that has supported torture techniques. McCain was the only Republican senator earlier this month to oppose confirming Steven Engel to head up the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel because he “reviewed and commented” on a draft version of a memo that approved enhanced interrogation techniques in 2007.

Bradbury was the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel from 2005 to 2009.

McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, also cautioned the Trump administration against implementing enhanced interrogation techniques in January when reports suggested Trump was contemplating an executive order to reinstate Bush-era detainee treatment standards.

“The president can sign whatever executive orders he likes,” McCain said at the time. “But the law is the law. We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America.”

Bradbury was confirmed by a 50-47 margin. Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., were not present for Tuesday’s vote.

This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner

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