Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama Administration: Holder in the Times

Whatever else you might have heard or read, David Johnston of the New York Times thinks Eric H. Holder Jr. is a candidate for Attorney General in the Obama administration. During the campaign, Mr. Holder seemed to have no interest in the position and explained that family members opposed it as well. There was another problem though. Given his ties to the Marc Rich and FALN pardons (Clinton administration), such talk ran quite contradictory to Obama's enthusiastic albeit ambiguous promise of "change."

But Obama has won and the campaign and all of its rhetoric are ancient history.

Johnston says Holder, a former federal prosecutor, would bring a "heavyweight résumé bursting with legal and law enforcement credentials" to the job. It is also reported that his "views on the law and the role of government align closely with Mr. Obama’s." This is notable because, while he served as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, the pardon power all but disappeared from the landscape of the American system of justice - except for an occasional symbolic, partisan or personal splurge here and there. Says Johnston:
Carries as baggage: His role in President Bill Clinton's controversial pardon of Marc Rich, the fugitive financier, who in 1983 fled to Switzerland rather than face tax evasion charges. The pardon bypassed the usual Justice Department process, and so Mr. Holder, as deputy attorney general, had no direct role in it. But when queried about his view of the pardon, Mr. Holder told the White House he was “neutral, leaning towards favorable.” The comment was later seized on by Democrats to defend the pardon and by Republicans to blast Mr. Holder for endorsing the most heavily criticized pardon of Mr. Clinton’s presidency, in part because it turned out that Mr. Rich’s former wife, Denise Rich, donated large amounts of money to Mr. Clinton’s presidential library.
Why the FALN pardons are not mentioned is unclear. Maybe they were just carry-on luggage for Holder. See Times blurb here.

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