WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama plans to install James Cole as the deputy attorney general, the No. 2 position at the Justice Department, after Senate Republican objections stalled his nomination, the White House said on Wednesday.
Obama plans to use a recess appointment to bypass the Senate for Cole, 58, who has been a partner at the law firm Bryan Cave LLP since 1995, the White House said in a statement.
The position has been vacant since February when the previous deputy attorney general, David Ogden, resigned in part because of a rocky relationship with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Cole's nomination in July but Republicans expressed concerns about his approach to terrorism cases and his work for troubled insurer American International Group.
Obama's fellow Democrats in the Senate tried to confirm Cole by unanimous consent but Republicans objected.
Cole's appointment comes as the caseload at the Justice Department has grown significantly this year, particularly in the terrorism area. He is expected to be able to serve until the end of 2011, or longer if the Senate votes to confirm him.
Prosecutors have been trying to move forward with trials of terrorism suspects held at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and are also pursuing a lawsuit against BP Plc and other companies for the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
Holder has long known Cole, who was a Justice Department official for 13 years before entering private law practice in Washington.
At the Justice Department, Cole served his last four years as deputy chief of the public integrity section, the same unit where Holder once worked. Cole tried a number of high-profile cases, including prosecutions of a member of Congress and a federal judge.
Cole also served as special counsel for the House Ethics Committee in its 1997 investigation of Speaker Newt Gingrich. In private practice, he has represented a number of companies, executives and politicians.
(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington and Jeff Mason in Honolulu; editing by Chris Wilson)