Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holder Confirmation: Warm Up

The Los Angeles Times has provided an over-view of the current state of affairs regarding President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr. Senate Republicans are asking for additional time to scrutinize Holder's experience. This stands to reason as Holder's "extensive" experience will often be cited as his primary qualification for the position. A hearing is scheduled for January 8, but the Republicans are calling for January 26. At present, the primary focus of pardon-related concerns appear to be seen in these passages:
Leading the charge is Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the judiciary committee ... he remained concerned, especially about Holder's key role in the most controversial one of the 177 pardons and commutations that President Clinton issued on his last day in office in January 2001 -- that of fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose ex-wife donated millions to Clinton's campaigns, his library and other Democratic causes.

... Holder also took great personal interest in the politically charged clemencies granted in 1999 to 16 convicted members of a Puerto Rican terrorist group known as the FALN. The commutations came over the vehement objections of the FBI, all of the prosecutors who convicted the terrorists, and even one of the Justice Department's two top pardon officials, Margaret Colgate Love.

And Holder played a murky role in Clinton's commutation of the sentence of Los Angeles-based cocaine trafficker Carlos Vignali, whose father was a wealthy supporter of influential Latino lawmakers who lobbied the White House on his behalf.
In addition to these topics, the Times suggests Republicans are exploring:
the independent counsel's investigation of Clinton and related impeachment proceedings; the controversial Justice Department-approved raid to seize Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez in Miami in 2000; gun rights legislation; death penalty approvals and rejections; corporations under criminal investigation; and any denial of congressional requests for documents from the executive branch.
One GOP judiciary staffer is quoted as saying, "There is certainly the concern that we don't have the full grasp of what happened" because "we feel like we've just scratched the service in terms of looking at his record." Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) questions Holder's "judgment and independence" in the Rich and FALN cases, but also in the pardons of Linda Evans and Susan Rosenberg (members of the Weather Underground).

Democrats claim Mr. Holder may bring more relevant experience to the table than any nominee in history. At the same time,however, they insist that the committee confine itself to taking only as much time to survey Holder's background as it has with previous attorneys general. See full article here.

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