WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House used unusually scornful language Thursday to decry Republican delays in the confirmation of Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, calling comments by a top Senate Republican "duplicitous."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest criticized Sen. Charles Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for arguing Democrats could have sought Lynch's confirmation in November or December when Democrats controlled the Senate.
Earnest pointed out that after Attorney General Eric Holder announced in September he planned to step down, it was Grassley who had suggested Obama not push a confirmation through that post-election lame duck session.
Earnest said, "That, in my mind, is an astounding display of duplicity."
"The only conclusion I can draw from this astounding exchange is that it's possible that Senator Grassley has been in Washington for too long," Earnest added.
Apparently eager to spread the word, White House Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman later posted a clip of Earnest's remarks on Twitter.
Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine accused the White House of "lodging personal attacks against a highly respected senator." She said it was Democrats who chose to delay Lynch's confirmation to confirm a number of judicial nominees in November and December.
"It was abundantly clear then - just as it is now - that Senate Democrats' priorities didn't include the Lynch nomination," she said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he'll bring up Lynch for a vote just as soon as the Senate finishes work on an unrelated bill to combat human trafficking that's gotten hung up in a dispute over abortion. There were signs of progress on the issue Thursday.
At the same time, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said that if McConnell didn't move quickly to confirm Lynch he would try to use a procedural maneuver to force a vote on her nomination.