Calling Harold G. Christensen "the obvious choice" to replace Edwin Meese III as attorney general, Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, said Wednesday he has called on President Reagan to appoint the Utah attorney to head the Justice Department.
"He is an eminent, accomplished attorney who has already shown his dedication by heeding a call for public service and taking his current post" as acting deputy attorney general, Owens said. "I think the nomination of Harold G. Christensen would be well-received in Congress."He would be seen as someone who can ably serve with distinction over the remaining months of the Reagan administration," he added.
Owens called the resignation of Meese "overdue and certainly in the best interest of the country."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Tuesday that he was not surprised that Meese announced he will step down at the end of the month.
But Hatch said Meese will step down "because he was vindicated."
He said that Meese and his wife, Ursula, "are doing what is best for them. They have given a great deal to the nation and deserve some peace."
Meese acted after the special prosecutor said not enough evidence exists against Meese to bring a criminal indictment against him.
Asked whether Meese's retirement will have any effect on this fall's Republican presidential campaign, Hatch said "it will not have anything to do with it" but conceded "I expect there will be those who will try to make political hay" of the affair.
Hatch agreed that Christensen "would make a wonderful successor" to Meese. But he said that selection is "up to the president - and I will support the president."
Christensen is due to appear at a Senate hearing on confirmation as deputy attorney general later this month.
Christensen could not be reached for comment.