WASHINGTON, Nov 19, 2008 — Why Does Obama Want To Appoint An Attorney General With A Long History Of Controversial Pardons?
Obama’s Top Choice For Attorney General Is Former Justice Department Official Eric Holder.
Eric Holder Is Obama’s “Top Choice For Attorney General.” “President-elect Barack Obama’s top choice for attorney general is Eric Holder, a former No. 2 Justice Department official in the Clinton administration…” (Matt Apuzzo and Lara Jakes Jordan, “Holder Is Obama’s Top Choice For Attorney General,” The Associated Press, 11/18/08)
But Holder Was Involved In The Last-Minute Pardon Of “Fugitive Financier” Marc Rich:
Holder Played A “Key Role” In The Pardoning Of Marc Rich. “Now Obama needs to turn his attention to another member of that committee – Eric Holder, a former No. 2 in the Clinton Justice Department who played a key role in processing the infamous last-minute pardon of the notorious tax-cheat fugitive Marc Rich.” (Editorial, “Obama’s Bus,” New York Post, 6/12/08)
“Holder, One Of Two Remaining Members Of Obama’s Vice Presidential Search Committee, Was Always Expected To Be A Lightning Rod.” (Jonathan Weisman, “Next On The GOP List: Eric Holder,” The Washington Post’s “The Trail” Blog, blog.washingtonpost.com, 6/12/08)
Holder Reviewed The Pardon Of “Fugitive Financier” Rich. “The criticism Thursday centered on Obama adviser Eric H. Holder Jr., who is scrutinizing candidates to be the Democratic presumptive presidential nominee’s running mate. As deputy attorney general under President Clinton, Mr. Holder reviewed the last-minute pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.” (Jim McElhatton, “GOP Hits Another Obama Adviser,” The Washington Times, 6/13/08)
Holder “Waved Through” Rich’s Pardon In The Final Days Of The Clinton Administration. “As Bill Clinton’s deputy attorney general, he was the gatekeeper for presidential pardons. Most famously, he waved through the pardon for fugitive financier Marc Rich in the waning days of the Clinton White House.” (Jonathan Weisman, “Next On The GOP List: Eric Holder,” The Washington Post’s “The Trail” Blog, blog.washingtonpost.com, 6/12/08)
“Charged With 51 Counts Of Fraud, Tax Evasion And Illegally Trading With Iran, Mr. Rich Fled To Switzerland In 1983 But Won A Pardon From Mr. Clinton In 2001.” (Jim McElhatton, “GOP Hits Another Obama Adviser,” The Washington Times, 6/13/08)
To Obtain A Pardon, Rich Retained Former White House Counsel Jack Quinn, Who Circumvented Formal Pardon Application Procedures. “[R]ich wanted a pardon and he retained Jack Quinn, former counsel to the president, to lobby his old boss. … From the start, the Rich lawyers ignored the government’s established rules for pardon applications. Instead of making a formal application to the Office of Pardons in the Justice Department, Quinn sent the application directly to the White House in late December of 2007.” (Dick Morris and Eileen McGann, Op-Ed, “Obama’s VP Search Mistake,” New York Post, 6/5/08)
Documents Emerged Which Indicated That Holder Had Recommended Quinn, And “Gave Substantive Advice To Quinn Along The Way.” “Two days later, documents in support of the pardon were sent by Jack Quinn to Eric Holder. It was Holder who had originally recommended Quinn to one of Rich’s advisers, although he claims that he did not know the identity of the client. And he gave substantive advice to Quinn along the way.
According to Quinn’s notes that were produced to Congress, Holder told Quinn to take the pardon application ‘straight to the White House’ because ‘the timing is good.’ … When Holder received the Rich materials, he did no independent research to determine their veracity and appears to have barely reviewed them.” (Dick Morris and Eileen McGann, Op-Ed, “Obama’s VP Search Mistake,” New York Post, 6/5/08)
Holder Conducted No Independent Research To Scrutinize Quinn’s Request On Behalf Of Rich. “When Holder received the Rich materials, he did no independent research to determine their veracity and appears to have barely reviewed them. … [H]e never took the time to check anything and simply told the White House that he was ‘neutral to positive’ on the pardons.” (Dick Morris and Eileen McGann, Op-Ed, “Obama’s VP Search Mistake,” New York Post, 6/5/08)
“Neither Clinton Nor Holder Ever Consulted With The Pardon Attorney.” (Dick Morris and Eileen McGann, Op-Ed, “Obama’s VP Search Mistake,” New York Post, 6/5/08)
“Officials At The U.S. Attorney’s Office In New York Were Understandably Infuriated When They Learned About The Pardon And Accused Rich Of Deliberating Bypassing Their Office.” (Dick Morris and Eileen McGann, Op-Ed, “Obama’s VP Search Mistake,” New York Post, 6/5/08)
“In 2002, A Congressional Committee Reported That Holder Was A ‘Willing Participant In The Plan To Keep The Justice Department From Knowing About And Opposing’ The Rich Pardon.” (Dick Morris and Eileen McGann, Op-Ed, “Obama’s VP Search Mistake,” New York Post, 6/5/08)
The Wall Street Journal: “As Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration, he played a role in the Marc Rich pardon that also deserves to be fully vetted – all the more so if Mr. Holder is on the short list to be Mr. Obama’s Attorney General.” (Editorial, “Ex-Friends Of Barack,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/12/08)
And As Deputy Attorney General, Holder Supported Clemency For Former FALN Members:
In August 1999, President Bill Clinton Offered Clemency To 16 Former Members Of The Puerto Rican Terrorist Group The Armed Forces Of National Liberation (FALN). “As the furor over President Clinton’s recent clemency offer to 16 militant Puerto Rican nationalists continues, new evidence suggests the timing of the decision might have had more to do with the 1998 impeachment proceedings than with the First Lady’s New York Senate campaign, as critics have charged. The White House also badly misjudged the repercussions of the decision on both sides of the clemency question. Though most of the critics have been the President’s political enemies and police injured in FALN terrorist acts, restrictions placed on the clemency also have angered many in the Puerto Rican community and made it hard for the prisoners to accept the deal. Lawyers for the FALN members have denounced the Clinton offer as unfair.
‘I don’t think the President understood the reaction that Puerto Ricans would have on all sides of the issue,’ said Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn). The dustup began Aug. 11, when the President offered clemency to 16 former members of the FALN the Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of National Liberation which was linked to about 130 bombings that killed six and injured dozens from 1974 to 1983. The presidential offer was the culmination of a six-year campaign that began in 1993, when a Chicago lawyer filed clemency petitions for 17 imprisoned FALN members.” (Edward Lewine, “How Bill Chose Clemency,” [New York] Daily News, 9/5/99)
Holder Played A Major Role In The FALN Clemency Decision, According To FALN Documents And Memos. “Holder, a Barbadian immigrant’s son who grew up in Queens and received his law degree from Columbia, has played major roles in the probe of Democratic funny-money in the 1996 elections, the Sexgate scandal and the recommendation to President Clinton on whether to free FALN terrorists from jail.
A list of FALN documents withheld from Congress shows that many memos on the FALN clemency decision went directly to Holder, while Reno’s role was minimal.” (Brian Blomquist, “Ailing Reno Yielding Reins Of Justice,” New York Post, 12/15/99)
Although The FBI Opposed Clemency, Holder Supported Clemency For The FALN Members. “Although The New York Times reported that the FBI, Bureau of Prisons and U.S. state attorneys opposed clemency, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department official most involved with this issue, reportedly supported clemency. ‘Eric Holder told me he was recommending that,’ a high-ranking official said. Ruff also supported clemency, sources said. Holder declined to comment.” (Edward Lewine, “How Bill Chose Clemency,” [New York] Daily News, 9/5/99)
In 1997, Holder Met With Three Members Of Congress And Made Recommendations To Them About How The FALN Members Could More Easily Be Granted Clemency. “The committee’s documents show that Mr. Adams and Eric Holder, the Deputy Attorney General, met on Nov. 5, 1997, with Representative Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, and Representatives Jose E. Serrano of the Bronx and Nydia M. Velazquez of Brooklyn, both Democrats, to discuss the case of the Puerto Rican inmates.
According to Mr. Adams’s notes, Mr. Holder told the members of Congress that because the prisoners had not applied themselves for clemency this could be taken that they were not repentant, and he suggested that a statement expressing some remorse might help. In their testimony today, both Mr. Adams and Mr. Holder declined to answer several questions about how the clemency decision was reached, citing executive privilege. Both said, however, that the Justice Department had acted appropriately throughout the process.” (Neil A. Lewis, “Records Show Puerto Ricans Got U.S. Help With Clemency,” The New York Times, 10/21/99)
A Subsequent Clinton Administration Justice Department Report Identified The Group As An “Ongoing Threat.” “The Puerto Rican nationalist group FALN, 16 of whose members were pardoned by President Clinton in August, poses an ‘ongoing threat’ to national security, according to a September report by Attorney General Janet Reno released yesterday during a combative Senate hearing on the clemency decision.” (David A. Vise and Lorraine Adams, “FALN A Threat, Reno Says,” The Washington Post, 10/21/99)
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