Three months after President Clinton announced he planned to nominate Republican Paul Warner as the new U.S. Attorney for Utah, he finally did so on Wednesday.
It took Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, less than 24 hours to push Warner's nomination through his committee, which approved it unanimously Thursday.Hatch said he hopes to have the full Senate approve Warner sometime Thursday or Friday - before the Senate begins its August recess this weekend.
Judiciary Committee spokeswoman Jeanne Lopatto said such lighting-quick work is possible because confirmation hearings for U.S. attorneys are rarely held, because the Senate likes to clear as many nominations as possible before the recess and because senators have known for months that Warner was to be nominated.
Hatch said, "The administration has made a wise choice in its selection of Paul Warner to serve as U.S. attorney." He now serves as chief of the criminal division in the office of the U.S. Attorney for Utah.
Hatch added, "Utah needs a career prosecutor with the reputation and ability of Paul Warner. He will lead the federal law enforcement effort in Utah at a time when drug use among our youth is increasing, crime rates are up and the criminal alien problem is a source of concern to our state."
Warner graduated from the Brigham Young University law school in 1976 and received a bachelor's degree from BYU in 1973.
Clinton told Hatch on May 1 that he planned to nominate Warner and the plans were then publicly announced. But Clinton took three months before he formally sent over the nomination.
It is unusual for Clinton to nominate a Republican. But Warner has close ties to Hatch. And Hatch as Judiciary Committee chairman has much say on which of Clinton's judicial nominees will receive fast action.
Hatch told the Deseret News earlier that "because of special problems here in Utah we needed someone inside the office to take over."
Warner would replace former U.S. Attorney Scott Matheson, who resigned in December to return to teaching at the University of Utah Law School.
Dave Schwendiman, a longtime prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office, has been serving as interim chief since Matheson's departure.