White House press secretary Josh Earnest unloaded Thursday on Sen. Chuck Grassley for the delay in the confirmation vote for Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch, saying the Iowa Republican has "been in Washington too long."
President Obama's top spokesman hammered the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman for calling on Democrats last year to hold off on a Lynch confirmation vote in the lame-duck session, before suggesting Thursday that Democratic leaders shared in the blame for the delay because they didn't push the nomination in November.
"The sad part, I think, is that Sen. Grassley, particularly in his home state of Iowa, has cultivated a reputation as somebody who is true to his word," Earnest told reporters. "The only conclusion I can draw from this astounding exchange is that it's possible Sen. Grassley has been in Washington too long."
Earnest went on to call Grassley's latest remarks "an astounding display of duplicity."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said the upper chamber won't take up the Lynch vote until senators pass anti-trafficking legislation. Democrats oppose the abortion language in that bill.
For Republicans, one downside to the delay in the Lynch vote is that Attorney General Eric Holder remains in the nation's top law-enforcement post. Among conservatives, Holder is perhaps the least popular member of Obama's Cabinet.
Later Thursday, Grassley's office hit back at the White House.
"If nothing else, the White House certainly is good at rewriting history," said Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine. "The fact of the matter is that when Eric Holder announced his intention to step down in September, Senate Democrats had a 55 seat majority. If you believe the White House and Senate Democrats had Republicans' best interests in mind when they delayed consideration of the Lynch nomination last fall, you hadn't watched how Harry Reid ran the Senate."
This story was first published at 2:37 p.m. and has been updated.