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Bush litigator Olson top choice for solicitor general

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Washington attorney Ted Olson, a key member of the Bush post-election legal team, is the leading choice to be solicitor general -- the new administration's top advocate before the Supreme Court, administration and Washington legal sources said Tuesday.

Olson argued the Bush case to the U.S. Supreme Court during the Florida recount fight. He previously worked in the Justice Department under former President Reagan.

The solicitor general post is one of a handful of top Justice Department positions the new administration wants to fill quickly once the Senate votes on the nomination of former Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Missouri, for attorney general. A formal offer to Olson was said to be on hold pending the Ashcroft vote, which could come later this week.

Olson is a respected figure in Washington legal circles, with friends in both political parties. He is no stranger to cases with major political overtones.

Olson provided assistance to the Paula Jones legal team during her sexual harassment case against former President Clinton and was a public supporter of his longtime friend, Kenneth Starr, when Starr was the independent counsel investigating Clinton and his wife, now-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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