Thursday, May 16, 2013

Saunders: Holder Still a Mess When It Comes to Pardons

Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle observes that, at Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Steve Cohen asked Eric Holder about a possible presidential pardon for former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. Cohen argued President Obama could pardon Siegelman "now,” but Holder, evidently, attempted to rebut that notion by saying Siegelman wasn't eligible to "apply" for clemency because he has not served out his sentence and there is an ongoing appeal.

Cohen then observed what should have been the obvious (at least obvious to the Attorney General of the United States ... and the point person for the Marc Rich pardon and FALN commutations) - that Department of Justice "rules" and "guidelines" do not constrain the president in any way, shape or form. Holder then sheepishly agreed.

Cohen then asked Holder if the current U.S. Pardon Attorney was under investigation. Holder responded that there had been "some difficulties" with respect to some applicant (whose name he could not remember), but added that "corrective measures" had been "put in place" so such a "mistake" would "not happen in the future.” With exasperation, Saunders notes the individual was Clarence Aaron, "who outrageously was sentenced to life without parole for a first-time nonviolent drug offense."

Indeed, if Mr. Aaron's application is not the most famous around, it is certainly in the top 5. And a report by the Office of the Inspector General concluded the conduct of the Pardon Attorney, in the matter of Aaron's application, "fell substantially short of the high standards to be expected of Department of Justice employees and of the duty that he owed to the President of the United States." But Attorney General Holder only has a fuzzy memory of any of this? Wow! Imagine what it will be like for Congress to get information out of him that he doesn't want them to have!

Saunders accurately observes,
"... Holder should be outraged that Pardon Attorney Ronald Rodgers withheld vital information on Aaron’s case. The only corrective measure that can prevent a repeat would be to remove Rodgers from a position for which he tempermentally is unsuited."
See Saunder's complete post here. See our previous posts on Holder here.

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