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Senate approves new deputy attorney general

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Department Producer
  • James Cole is the new No. 2 to Attorney General Eric Holder
  • The vote -- 55-42 -- was along mostly partisan lines
  • Republicans allowed the vote after reaching a deal on documents

Washington (CNN) -- The Senate voted Tuesday to approve the nomination of James Cole to the powerful post of deputy attorney general, number two in the Justice Department to Attorney General Eric Holder.

The vote, largely along party lines, was 55-42.

Cole, who has been serving in the post following a recess appointment in January, was strongly opposed by most Republicans.

The long-delayed vote took place after Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, was given promises by the Justice Department that Republicans would have access to a trove of documents, including those involving a controversial illegal weapons program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to Senate Justice Committee sources.

Under the deal with Grassley, acting ATF Director Ken Melson, who is under fire for the weapons program known as "Fast and Furious," would appear before the panel after the upcoming Fourth of July recess. The program permitted the illegal sale of weapons in order to track them, and some ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Following Cole's confirmation, the Senate by voice vote also confirmed two other high-ranking Justice Department officials -- Virginia Seitz as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, and Lisa Monaco as Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.

"I'm confident they will provide invaluable leadership to the department, and will play a critical role in protecting the American people, ensuring the fairness and integrity of our financial markets and restoring the traditional missions of the department," Holder said in a statement issued after the Senate votes.