Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Marc Rich. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Marc Rich. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Context: The Amazing Marc Rich Pardon Application

Judicial Watch has recently announced that it has received an "official" copy of the Marc Rich / Pincus Green pardon application via a FOIA request. I have had the application in hand for several years now and composed a brief description of it in a passage in my forthcoming book, Pardon Me, Mr. President: Adventures in Crime, Politics and Mercy. Below is a snippet:
... The application for pardon, submitted on December 11, well emphasized what must surely have been considered to be the single most important detail by the applicants. The first two sentences of the “Executive Summary” (page two) which followed a cover sheet read:
This petition sets for the request of Mr. Marc Rich and Mr. Pincus Green for a Presidential Pardon. Mr. Rich and Mr. Green are internationally recognized businessmen and philanthropists who have contributed over $200,000,000 to charity in the past twenty years, and donated countless hours to humanitarian
causes around the world.
There followed a second, more traditional, line of argumentation which explained that Rich and Green were seeking a pardon, even though they had “never been convicted of criminal offenses,” because they had been “wrongfully indicted” in an “unfair and unwarranted” manner. Rich and Green were said to have a “complete defense” against the “accusations” in the indictment against them, although the cynic might have wondered why such wealthy, confident fugitives would not simply return to the United States, beat the flimsy charges against them, embarrass the over-zealous prosecutors who were out to get them personally and swiftly clear their honorable names in court.
But the pardon application attempted to ease the burden of such curiosity, first, by describing Rich and Green as being “in exile.” Secondly, the application noted the return of the fugitives was “untenable” because they would face “immediate incarceration” and a “certain media circus.” As a result, it was “illusory” to think that the United States was even capable of giving the two men a “fair trial.”

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Campaign 08: Obama and Marc Rich?

The Marc Rich pardon. It is the story that just keeps giving, and giving and giving. An Associatd Press story today ties Rich to Obama! I assume the Kevin Bacon link has already been established. Anyway, the story says, among other things:

The last time Washington attorney Eric Holder participated in a high-profile vetting, it was for fugitive financier Marc Rich. The episode in 2001 became the final scandal of the Clinton administration and landed Holder, at the time the No. 2 official at the Justice Department, in the middle of a congressional investigation.

Now Holder, a co-chairman of Barack Obama's campaign, is one of three big names who will lead the search for a potential running mate for the presumed Democratic presidential nominee.

... In the Clinton pardon scandal, Holder was deputy attorney general when his duties intersected with the efforts of Rich's lawyer, Jack Quinn, who had been White House counsel earlier in the Clinton administration. The entire matter was handled in an unorthodox manner — on a straight line from Rich's lawyer to the White House, with a consulting role for Holder.

Later, Holder said he told White House counsel Beth Nolan the day before the pardon was issued that he was "neutral, leaning toward favorable" in regard to the pardon. He said he and Nolan "never had a prolonged conversation about the matter." To make matters worse, Holder had asked Quinn for his help in becoming attorney general in the event then-Vice President Al Gore won the 2000 election.

Rich did not even qualify for a pardon under Justice Department guidelines, which say no pardons can be requested until five years after completion of a sentence in a criminal case. Prosecutors on the Rich case testified that no one consulted with them before a recommendation went to the president on the Rich pardon. Rich has been based in Switzerland since 1983, just before he was indicted in the United States, accused of tax evasion on more than $100 million in income, fraud and participating in illegal oil deals with Iran. Members of Congress pointed out that Rich's ex-wife, Denise, visited the White House more than a dozen times during Clinton's presidency and contributed an estimated $450,000 to the president's library foundation, $1.1 million to the Democratic Party and at least $109,000 to Hillary Rodham Clinton's bid for the Senate.

... In the end, Holder told Congress he would have tried to stop the Rich pardon if he had known the full details of the fugitive financier's case. Holder said he did not pay much attention to Rich's case amid a flood of pardon requests that came to the Justice Department in Clinton's last days in office.

Quinn and Holder denied that anything untoward or illegal had been done by them or anyone else that they knew of, and the passage of time has restored whatever damage to Holder's reputation occurred at the time. Seven and a half years after the most controversial incident of his legal career, Holder enjoys a stellar reputation among his Washington colleagues ...

See the Associated Press story here. A more extensive piece also appears over at Here are some snippets from it:

... On January 19, 2001, the last full day of the Clinton administration, Holder had a lot on his plate: commutation requests, department personnel matters, and security details for the next day's inauguration. A pardon application for a fugitive commodities trader named Marc Rich was not the most pressing issue of the day. In fact, Holder believed the application had such a small shot at being granted that he didn't give it much thought. But when the White House asked for his view on the pardon he gave it: "neutral leaning towards favorable."

... For the first time in his career, Holder faced an assault on his reputation and integrity. He had been the main Justice Department contact for Rich's lawyer, John Quinn, who was then at Arnold & Porter. The two had known each other well. In fact, sometime before the 2000 election -- it's not clear when -- Holder told Quinn, a close confidant of Vice President Al Gore, that he wanted to be attorney general in a Gore administration. (Both men say the conversation had nothing to do with the Rich

Quinn first asked for Holder's help on the Marc Rich case in November 2000, when Rich's prosecutors in the Southern District of New York had refused to meet with him. When Holder wasn't able to change the New York prosecutors' minds, Quinn filed a pardon application with the White House. He told White House counsel that they should contact Holder about the case, even though Holder was only vaguely familiar with its details.

The Rich matter reached its nadir for Holder on Feb. 8, 2001, when he was summoned to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Seated next to Quinn, Holder said in his statement that his conscience was clear, though he wished he had done certain things differently. But he also vented frustration at being the fall guy. "I have been angry, hurt and even somewhat disillusioned by what has transpired over the past two weeks with regard to this pardon," he said.

Holder endured hours of questioning from House members, some of it personal. Dan Burton, R-Ind., who was chairman of the oversight committee, insinuated that Holder and Quinn had engaged in a quid pro quo. "The thing is, you wanted something from Mr. Quinn," said Burton. "You wanted his support for attorney general of the United States, and he wanted a pardon for Mr. Rich and his partner." Holder, who sharply denied such a deal, had his backers ...

But the damage to his image had been done. In a New York Times op-ed explaining the Rich pardon, President Clinton didn't do much to protect Holder. He wrote that he regretted that Holder "did not have more time to review the case." "It is without a doubt the darkest moment in Eric Holder's professional life," says Olson, Holder's former chief of staff. "I think it ate at him for quite a while. And what hurt him the most is the fact that, for the first time ever, his motives were called into question. And he knew he hadn't intentionally done anything wrong, but I think he realizes that he should have handled it better."

PardonPower seems to remember something about Holder congratulating Marc Rich after the pardon, or maybe it was Rich's lawyer. While these pieces also portray Holder as being swamped with clemency business, it is also documented (somewhere!) that Holder told applicants (or at least one applicant) that the end of the administration was the "right time" for such. See piece here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Marc Rich? Is That It?

It is clear that the Obama administration has placed its ducks in order. Floating Eric Holder as the pick for Attorney General would have been an awful idea during the campaign. He is clearly retro and a key player in major controversies of the Clinton administration - the administration Obama condemned so loudly. The story-line, during the campaign, had to be "No way. Not interested. Not doing it."

But, now, the campaign which promised "change" and a "new tone in Washington" is over, and Bill Clinton's deputy attorney general is right back in the cue. NPR's Nina Totenberg reported this morning that the Obama team "consulted" with "key" Republican Senators to see if they would dare require a serious vetting process for the first African American nominated to the position of Attorney General. Of course, only a few surrenders were necessary, as the Democrats will have plenty of seats in the Senate.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The President: Critics at the Chronicle

Today's San Francisco Chronicle provides an editorial which bounces off of last week's New York Times' editorial concerning evident chaos in the Office of the Pardon Attorney, Department of Justice. The Chronicle says that it "remains unclear" whether the former U.S. Pardon Attorney (Roger Adams) was a "major factor" behind the "meager number of pardons issued by Bush," but condemns the President:

who has shown no interest in freeing offenders convicted of often draconian federal mandatory-minimum sentences - unless the offender is the convicted lying and justice-obstructing former White House aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

The editorial does not go on to explain just how the level of the President's personal interest has been ascertained, but then goes from bad to worse:

It's true that Bill Clinton tarnished the pardon process by issuing 140 last-minute pardons without proper review - to such unworthies as billionaire fugitive Marc Rich, who was hiding in Switzerland following a 51-count, 1983 indictment for tax evasion, racketeering and illegal trading. Bush has erred in freeing few prisoners despite the record number of felons in federal prison.

Marc Rich? Are you kidding me? You are writing an editorial on the pardon power, non-violent drug offenders and the Clinton administration and you mention Marc Rich?

Why not mention that fact that Clinton - like Bush - also "freed few prisoners despite the record number of felons in federal prison" (see this CJCJ article on Clinton's "prison legacy") and - even worse - pardoned his own half-brother (Roger Clinton), who was convicted on drug related charges?!

Why not mention Carlos Vignali? Indeed, let's go back to 2001 where provided these insights:

[P]resident Clinton told Rolling Stone magazine that many drug sentences are too long and that U.S. policy needs to be reexamined ... Drug reform groups made a frantic stampede to submit to the president the names of hundreds of petty drug dealers serving long stretches in federal prisons under crushing mandatory-minimum drug sentences. Those sentences were set in granite by Congress a decade ago and judges have no control over them; only a presidential pardon can undo them. Clinton denied nearly all the requests for clemency. One of the few he didn't deny was the request to release one Carlos Vignali [the] kingpin in a lucrative drug ring that shipped hundreds of pounds of cocaine from Los Angeles to Minnesota ... It was more than luck or Clinton compassion that sprung Vignali after he had served six years. His rich daddy, an Argentinian immigrant named Horacio Vignali, dumped tens of thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of some of California's top politicians. Two of them -- the former speaker of the California assembly, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Rep. Xavier Becerra -- are leading contenders in Los Angeles' upcoming mayoral election. Both wrote letters and made phone calls asking the White House to consider clemency for Vignali.

Of course, Hillary Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham, accepted a fee to lobby on behalf of Vignali ... but, what is worse? Bill Clinton publicly asserting these supposed beliefs about the severity of federal sentencing and then doing nothing about it? Or, President Bush not doing as much as the Chronicle would have him do? Finally, the Chronicle, while oddly obssessing with Marc Rich, dropped this anecdote:

Serena Nunn can show the way. At age 19, Nunn drove her drug dealer boyfriend as
he plied his sorry trade - for which she was sentenced to 15 years in prison. President Clinton commuted her sentence in July 2000, after a prosecutor and judge supported Nunn's petition. Now Nunn is a law school graduate. "I had the opportunity to redeem myself," Nunn told the House Judiciary Committee last year, but hundreds of other Americans are serving excessive sentences for low-level crimes. The mercy that freed Libby is beyond their reach, and that is wrong.

Yes, indeed. The mercy that freed Roger Clinton (who will forever and always represent a more intelligent point of comparison for Ms. Nunn than Scooter Libby) was beyond her reach as well. If it had not been, Ms. Nunn would have been released eight long years ago! Shame on Mr. Clinton. Shame on Mr. Clinton's brother. Shame on Hillary Clinton's brother. Thank goodness Mrs. Clinton was completely unaware of everything all the while!

Meanwhile, just forget about Marc Rich, Chronicle. He was nothing! See the full editorial here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Politico: On Holder (Kinda), Rich and Snowden (?)

At, Josh Gerstein makes a somewhat (OK, very) odd comparison between Bill Clinton's pardon of fugitive wealthy guy Marc Rich and a potential pardon for Edward Snowden ... the common ground being that then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder played a critical / controversial role in the Rich pardon and now U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder could possibly play a role in a Snowden pardon. Gerstein notes additional "parallels"  - in both cases there are "calls for some form of presidential clemency" and the "the possibility of cutting a plea deal."

To which we say: Ugh!

But Gerstein also writes that Holder "was the most seriously burned by the Rich affair" - a description which, oddly, leaves room for the uninformed to guess that Holder was somehow a victim of circumstances, an innocent by-stander, who, unexpectedly, got caught up in some big mess, after merely gave a “neutral leaning towards favorable” recommendation on a Rich pardon. Gerstain adds that Holder himself describes the Rich pardon as "one of the most searing political experiences of his life — one that he thought for a time had effectively ended his government career." It was a situation which he would - if he could - reconsider!

And why on earth NOT ?!?!?!?!

Gerstein is, of course, not the first to approach Holder's disastrous course of action in the Rich case in such an odd way (see this pitiful effort by the L.A. Times, back in 2008). The rest of Gerstein's piece provides a detailed discussion of the Rich case (not the pardon) and various individuals' views about whether or not it is proper to negotiate with fugitives. Strikingly absent - given the intro - is information on Eric Holder's role in the Rich pardon! We fear it may be time to re-educate re Eric Holder and refer readers to the following links:

1/15/09 Holder Learned from His Mistakes
11/26/08 Holder Disqualified
11.20/08 Holder and the Rich Pardon
11/19/08 NR: On Holder
7/7/08 Campaign 08: Eric Holder Obama's Choice for A.G.?
6/4/08 Campaign 08: Obama and Marc Rich?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

FBI Produces FOIA Information on Clinton / Rich Pardon

Bill Clinton and Denise Rich
Bloomberg reports that the FBI has "unexpectedly released 129 pages of documents related to an investigation closed without charges in 2005 into President Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich. The file was actually posted online Monday "but received little attention until the FBI noted it in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon."

Says Bloomberg, "the Clinton campaign immediately questioned the timing of the release."
The investigation stemmed from one of several pardons Clinton made on the last day of his presidency in 2001, that of financier and international fugitive Marc Rich, whose ex-wife Denise had given to the Democratic National Committee and the entity that would later become the Clinton Foundation. While the files may seem dated, they invoke figures beyond the Clintons who went on to play key roles in official Washington -- including Comey. He served as prosecutor in charge of a legal case against Rich from 1987 to 1993. As the U.S. attorney in Manhattan in 2002, Comey took over a criminal investigation of Clinton’s pardons. “I was stunned” at the Rich pardon, Comey wrote in a letter to lawmakers in 2008. 
Former Attorney General Eric Holder has also been critical of Comer. He was, of course, knee-deep in the Rich pardon controversy as well. See more on this story here.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Campaign 08: Vetting Mrs. Clinton Softly

I recently observed that "vetting" in the dictionary of Hillary Clinton appears to mean to provide "clumsy rebuttals to scrutiny without significant consequence." You could hardly find a better example of my reasoning than in a CNN transcript that can be found here. On casual review, what stands out is 1) this very active - and therefore "experienced" - member of the White House for eight years knew nothing about her husband, the deputy White House counsel, her husband's brother, her own brother, her campaign treasurer or her own legal advisor. These individuals were into pardon scandals up to their ears. But she knew nothing about any of it. What also stands out is that 2) she refuses to condemn the controversial last-minute pardons of Marc Rich in the face of a direct question and a comment by former President Jimmy Carter.

Instead, Mrs. Clinton seems to advise us that it is not kind to be judgemental or to second-guess the decision making of her husband, and that we all just have to decide for ourselves and, of course, suck it up. Now that Mrs. Clinton has had eight long years to think about it all, it is obviously appropriate for someone to ask her about it once again. As president, will she pardon her own relatives, top donors, most-wanted fugitives and terrorists and tell us all that she is shocked and dismayed that we are judgmental? and ask us to just draw whatever conclusions we can conclude, because everyone is entitled to their own opinion? Here are some excerpts of the "vetting" process for Mrs. Clinton (be prepare not to be impressed):

QUESTION: ... your brother and the pardon and clemency petition, first? And secondly, do you think your husband handled these pardons appropriately?
CLINTON: Well, I was very disappointed and saddened by this whole matter. You know, it came as a surprise to me, and it was very disturbing. And I'm just very disappointed about it. With respect to any questions about the pardons or the president's handling of the pardons, you'll have to ask him or his staff about that ...

QUESTION: What about Roger Clinton in specific: Did he ask for a pardon?
CLINTON: I don't know the answer to that.

QUESTION: Did he ask the president for a pardon?
CLINTON: I don't know the answer to that.

QUESTION: Why would anyone, Mrs. Clinton, contact your brother if they were not trying to get access to you or the president?
CLINTON: Well, you'll have to ask him. If I had known about this, we wouldn't be standing here today. I didn't know about it, and I'm very regretful that it occurred, that I didn't know about it. I might have been able to prevent this from happening. And I'm just very disappointed about the whole matter ...

QUESTION: What exactly did you not know about? Did you not know that he was representing them? Did you not know about the money? And finally, what about your campaign treasurer, William Cunningham? Should he also return the fee that he got regarding the two other pardons?
CLINTON: Well, let's separate these out. I did not know my brother was involved in any way in any of this. I learned that there were some press inquiries, of a vague nature, last week sometime. I did not know any specific information until late Monday night ... Now, with respect to Mr. Cunningham, I knew nothing about that. But I know that he is, you know, a fine lawyer and a fine man. And I had no knowledge that he was involved ...

QUESTION: What about Mr. Ickes? It sounded like...
CLINTON: I did not know anything about that either ...

QUESTION: Senator, did you ever have a discussion with your brother, notwithstanding his professional involvement, about pardons or commutations? And the same question as regarding Bruce Lindsey?
CLINTON: No, I did not. You know, I don't have any memory at all of ever talking to my brother about this. You know, that's my best memory. But I have to say, and I will repeat once again, information was coming to me, information was passed on. So, you know, if I said information came, people wanted to look at, I might have said that. I just don't remember anything further than that ...

QUESTION: So your brother may have spoken to someone who then spoke to you.
CLINTON: No, not about any involvement of my brother. No, I want to make that 100 percent clear. I don't want you to try to put words in my mouth. I knew nothing about my brother's involvement in these pardons. I knew nothing about his taking money for his involvement. I had no knowledge of that whatsoever ...

QUESTION: Did [the President] ever speak to you about the pardons?
CLINTON: No, he did not ...

QUESTION: Senator, is Marc Rich among the people that he passed information on?
CLINTON: No. You know, I never knew about Marc Rich at all. You know, people would hand me envelopes, I would just pass them. You know, I would not have any reason to look into them. I knew nothing about the Marc Rich pardon until after it happened ...

QUESTION: Senator, do you think your husband made a mistake in pardoning Marc Rich?
I know that other senators have commented on this, and I think you might understand why I'm not going to have any comment on any of the pardons, on the merits or demerits that might surround any of these pardons.

QUESTION: The person who is handling your campaign finances is also pushing pardon matters before the president you're married to. Doesn't that send a signal?
CLINTON: Well, you know, I don't know anything more about this than what has been reported. ... That's all I know about it. And he certainly did not talk to me about it. I did not know about it until it was, I guess, written about today ...

QUESTION: Are you going over any of these pardons now, yourself, to see which one next could possibly create another political problem for you and/or your husband?
CLINTON: You know, I have no idea what is coming next. You know, I was talking to a friend of mine today, and you know, we were just amazed by what has unfolded over the past weeks. I don't have any information. I don't know anything about these. And if issues are raised, I'm going to be in the same position as I've been in, which is to say that, you know, I was not involved in the decisions. I didn't even know about the vast majority of these things ever being considered. And you'll have to, really, ask the president and his staff who handled all of this ...

QUESTION: Former President Carter has said that these pardons and commutations were disgraceful and brought discredit on the process and one of the biggest mistakes that your husband has ever made. So is Mr. Carter wrong?
CLINTON: No. Mr. Carter is someone whom I admire and respect deeply, and he has every right to express his opinion. And I believe that, you know, people will have to make their judgments based on the facts as they are available ... people will have to make their own decisions. But there is a very big difference between saying what someone did and why they did it and what their motivation for doing it was and whether you agree with it or not. And, you know, we all I'm sure make decisions in our life that we believe we make for the absolutely, you know, right reasons and right motivations which someone can disagree with. You know, that is, you know, part of life, I think. So I would just say that anyone can draw whatever conclusions they choose, but ultimately the reasons rest with the president and his staff. And he can put those reasons out and people can say, "Well, I agree or disagree," and that's the way it has to be. And I believe that's, you know, the appropriate context for all of this to be discussed and judged.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Campaign 08: Bob Barr in the Race

Yes, Bob Barr, Libertarian, says he is in the race! It appears that Mr. Barr has not left the longest trail of statements regarding the pardon power, and most of what seems to be out there is related to the fairly narrow topic of Bill Clinton and Marc Rich. Barr delivered a classic line on NewsHour, for example, in regard to the Clinton-feigned-ignorance routine and the Marc Rich pardon. Barr quipped:

It's like Keystone Cops. But I don't think it is. I think the President knew exactly what he was doing. You didn't request information so you could probably say, "I don't know." In other words, have you ever heard of the concept of deliberate ignorance? Well, maybe not. Most prosecutors have.
Barr also suggested the congressional report on the Marc Rich pardon should be entitled, "Justice Undone. Corruption Well Done." In the aftermath of the last-minute Clinton pardons (or as Mr. Barr put it, "the pardon orgy), he sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General which read, in part:

Contrary to long-established and consistent precedent, former President Clinton did not issue separate clemency grants for each individual. Instead he signed a single document entitled, 'Executive Grant of Clemency,' listing 138 persons by name, under the following statement: AFTER CONSIDERING THE REQUESTS for executive clemency of the following named persons, I hereby grant full and unconditional pardons to the following named persons for those offenses against the United States described in each such request: As a result, and as further explained in my February 9, 2001 letter, these 44 persons "could not" - and did not - receive pardons" ... This is patently - and constitutionally - improper.
"Master" warrants of this type have actually been used, on a consistent basis, since the Eisenhower administration. So, it is safe to assume the complaint didn't go very far. Still hanging on, in 2005, Barr wrote an editorial which criticized the Bush administration because:

... it chose not to inquire into the stench surrounding several of outgoing President Clinton's last-minute pardons, despite evidence that at least one --- fugitive fraud financier Marc Rich --- may have been procured at least in part by sizable donations through Rich's ex-wife, Denise, to the Clinton "presidential library" fund.
On CNN's Crossfire, Barr called Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon "outrageous" but, at the same time, criticized Clinton's pardons because Clinton "did not follow normal procedures." After having "studied" the question, Barr had decided that "no president" before Clinton "did what he did to the magnitude and number of midnight pardons that he issued" nor had "any other president skirted the Department of Justice and his own prosecutors" the way Clinton did.

PardonPower would just love to know what documents/sources were studied to reach this conclusion, but we offer to readers the only solid piece of empirical research on the topic that we are aware of here. One wonders if Barr would have used the "pardon orgy" line had he been around in the administrations of say Adams, Buchanan, Eisenhower, or Washington (keep in mind the month represented on the far right of each chart is not a complete month). And what is his view of what went on in the administrations of G.H.W. Bush , Carter , Nixon(2)/Ford and Reagan? Nonetheless, Barr made this interesting point along the way:

There is something you can do about it. If you have a president who issues pardons on a regular basis during his administration, the people do have some recourse. You can throw them out of office, for one thing, but when you do it at the last minute by subverting justice, there's nothing the people can do.

Perhaps we can learn more about Mr. Barr's opinions regarding the pardon power generally - if he has any - in the days and weeks to come. PardonPower may even send an e-mail his way and see what happens. Look for an update.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Obama on Holder, Rich Pardon

Yesterday, Barack Obama made these remarks with respect to Eric Holder, the nominee for U.S. Attorney General:
"With respect to Eric Holder, everybody who looks at his record says the guy was an outstanding attorney, an outstanding prosecutor, an outstanding judge, an outstanding No. 2 at the Justice Department. And Eric has acknowledged that the [Marc] Rich pardon was a mistake on his part, not having caught that earlier. I agree with him. I think it was a mistake. But when you look at the totality of his experience, there is no doubt that he is going to be an outstanding attorney general."
PardonPower is amused with the Clintonian use of language. The "Rich pardon was a mistake?" No, Holder's role in the Rich pardon was a mistake! But, dang it, he just didn't quite "catch" that slippery little feller going by - the millionaire fugitive on the "most wanted" list! Holder also knew (and predicted in advance) that DOJ officials would be furious by a pardon for Rich. Does that knowledge come under the "mistake" category, or the "slippery fish" category?

Otherwise, PardonPower could not agree with the president elect more. A single-minded focus on Marc Rich might very well leave Holder looking "outstanding." If, however, anyone bothers to look "at his record" and asks Holder about his involvement in the FALN terrorist pardons, his insensitivity to the victims of violent crimes, his claims of executive privilege, his politicization of the pardon process, or his role in any other number of controversial pardons ... well, that might be a different story. See news item here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Campaign 08: Quindlen Blind on Mrs. Clinton

Today, Anna Quindlen writes an editorial which begins by saying:

ON his last night as president of the United States, Bill Clinton issued a pardon for a man named Marc Rich. Later, Clinton would write a long op-ed piece on the reasons, but the reason seemed obvious to observers: the fugitive financier was what just plain folks call stinking rich, and his ex-wife had given nearly a half-million dollars to Clinton's presidential library. Even the president's customary allies did not find it in their hearts to justify his action.

Yet, in some way, the pardon was an apt coda to an administration that seemed to veer from constructive to self-destructive so often that the American people developed whiplash.

The Family and Medical Leave Act, and Monica Lewinsky. The elimination of the deficit, and the Rich pardon. The supremely eloquent speaker, and the man who said: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." Bill giveth, Bill taketh away, mainly from his own reputation. A presidency with an ace domestic agenda somehow became a dizzying slip-and-slide that made you want to scream: Legacy, legacy, legacy, legacy, legacy.
Quinlen goes on to say that she figured Hillary Clinton to be "more highly disciplined" than her husband and, well, just "better" than all of that. But, alas, Quindlen bemoans the fact that it is now Mrs. Clinton's "turn" to go "down a dark road from a Democratic perspective." Yes, Mrs. Clinton is "an historic figure" who has smashed the "glass ceiling" for future female candidates and all that. But, amazingly, Quindlen is all too blind as she writes:

When her husband pardoned Marc Rich, one supporter said it was no worse than what the Republicans had done in the past. That's not what I call a defence. And it's no kind of legacy for a woman as formidable as Hillary Clinton.
How can a person so intelligent as Quindlen not see that Bill and Hillary are apples and apples? Why, the Marc Rich pardon was no more controversial than the pardon controversies surrounding Hillary's brothers (Hugh and Tony) and her campaign treasurer (see discussion here). Is it possible that Quindlen has not heard of Hillary's involvement with outrageous pardons granted to the Hasidic Jews in New Square New York? Was Quindlen away on vacation when Mrs. Clinton did her own whiplash PR campaign in the aftermath of the FALN commutations - first calling on her husband to withdraw the clemency offer, then "reaching out" to angry community leaders that might cost her the election to the U.S. Senate? Every time Hillary Clinton said, "I don't know anything," and accepted envelopes that people put into her hands to pass along to high ranking government officials without asking any questions, it was perfect harmony to Bill's classic deposition gnosticism.

"Discipline" is just not the proper word to describe what is on display when the Clintons play politics. A disciplined candidate would have never even thought to be critical of Barack Obama for being associated with a former Weather Underground member. There was nothing in that territory for Mrs. Clinton but quick-sand and an instant rhetorical mauling. A disciplined candidate would have just sat back and kept the old mouth shut when Scooter Libby's prison sentence was commuted. But Mrs. Clinton just had to issue this statement:

Today's decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. This case arose from the Administration's politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies. Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House's efforts to quell dissent. This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.
Oh the humanity! The horror! We're gonna need a bigger boat! For one brief moment, Ted Kennedy's post-Robert Bork nomination BS bomb had to take a back seat. There was a new champ. Mrs. Clinton was offended by the intersection of "cronyism and ideology" and the pardon power. Heavens! Forget about all of those pardons to Roger Clinton (Clinton's brother), Susan McDougal (Clinton's former business partner), Henry Cisneros (D- Clinton's HUD Secretary), Arnold Prosperi (who managed Clinton's student council president campaign in college), John Deutch (Clinton's CIA Director), John Fife Symington (who saved Clinton from drowning at a 60s beach party), Richard Riley Jr. (the son of Clinton's Education Secretary), Dan Rostenkowski (D) and Mel Reynolds (D)!

Yes, cronyism. Intolerable stuff!

It all demonstrates that Mrs. Clinton got much more than phenomenal name recognition, a hefty joint banking account and all of that political "experience" from her husband who - if you take a second to think about it - first catapulted himself to national prominence by talking and talking and talking, and not seeming to know when to shut up (while nominating Michael Dukakis at the Democratic National Convention). See Quindlen's full editorial here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Campaign 08: Pardon the Vetting, Mrs. Clinton

Hillary Clinton loves to take credit for being an active participant in her husband's administration and boasts that she has been "vetted" as a candidate many times over. But USA Today reports that archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library are blocking the release of hundreds of pages of White House papers on pardons that the former president approved, including clemency for fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich. The decision to do so is "based on guidance provided by Bill Clinton that restricts the disclosure of advice he received from aides, prevents public scrutiny of documents that would shed light on how he decided which pardons to approve from among hundreds of requests." The article also notes:

... Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., criticized Sen. Clinton this week for not doing more to see that records from her husband's administration are made public. "She's been reluctant to disclose information," Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod told reporters in a conference call where he specifically cited the slow release records from the Clinton library. "If she's not willing to be open with (voters) on these issues
now, why would she be open as president."

In January 2006, USA TODAY requested documents about the pardons under the Freedom of Information Act. The library made 4,000 pages available this week. However, 1,500 pages were either partially redacted or withheld entirely, including 300 pages covering internal White House communications on pardon decisions, such as memos to and from the president, and reports on which pardon requests the Justice Department opposed ...

... Clinton issued 140 pardons on his last day in office, including several to controversial figures, such as commodities trader Rich, then a fugitive on tax evasion charges. Rich's ex-wife, Denise, contributed $2,000 in 1999 to Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign; $5,000 to a related political action committee; and $450,000 to a fund set up to build the Clinton library. The president also pardoned two men who each paid Sen. Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham, about $200,000 to lobby the White House for pardons — one for a drug conviction and one for mail fraud and perjury convictions, according to a 2002 report by the House committee on government reform. After the payments came to light, Bill Clinton issued a statement: "Neither Hillary nor I had any knowledge of such payments," the report said.

... In 2004, Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest group, went to court to force the Bush administration to release Justice Department records on Clinton's pardons, and a federal judge ordered that the records be opened. But the administration, which argued that such releases would undermine presidents' ability to get confidential advice, blacked out most of the documents it made public. Christopher Farrell, a Judicial Watch director, noted that the pardon documents withheld also included all Justice Department reports that were sent to Clinton with recommendations on which clemency requests he should deny. Farrell disputed the privacy concerns. "It's ridiculous," he said. "These are people who were convicted in a court, and those cases are a matter of public record."

In a sense, little about this story is "new." Secrecy has been the hallmark of the clemency process since Franklin Roosevelt stopped reporting clemency decisions in the Annual Report of the Attorney General in 1932.

But it does highlight what Mrs. Clinton means when she uses the word "vetted." In her vocabulary, "vetted" means she has "clumsily rebutted scrutiny without significant consequence." This can be seen over and over throughout her political career. She had no idea where her Whitewater law firm records were. After years of inquiry they just showed up in a box, in a closet, in her place of residence. Her explanation: "I did not know they were there." Her own brother accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars to impact clemency decisions in her husband's administration. Her explanation: "I knew nothing." Did Roger Clinton ask for a pardon? "I do not know." Marc Rich? "I never knew about Marc Rich at all." Mrs. Clinton met with a Jewish community in New York that was seeking controversial pardons and set up a private meeting for them with the President. She was in the room during the meeting but said afterward, "I said nothing. I expressed no opinion." Of course, she knew "nothing" about the FALN pardons either. Yes, she was in the middle of a high profile Senate race and such pardons would clearly been seen as an effort to pull more voters to her side. But she knew nothing of the pardons until afterward and did not discuss them with her husband.

What can you say about Mrs. Clinton? To vet her is to not know her. See USA Today story here.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Comment: Library Scandal and the Pardon Power

Today's Washington Post notes that the President, when asked whether he would disclose the identities of donors to his library, said, "We'll look at the disclosure requirements and make a decision." He also noted that "some people . . . like to give and don't particularly want their names disclosed, whether it be for this foundation or any other foundation. And so we'll take that into consideration." The Post considers this the "wrong" answer. Why? Because:

It was an outrage when Mr. Bush's predecessor, President Bill Clinton, collected millions of dollars in secret money for his library while in office. Just how outrageous became clear as Mr. Clinton left the presidency, when he granted a pardon to fugitive financier Marc Rich; Mr. Rich's ex-wife had given $450,000 to the Clinton library.
Yes, eight years later, the Post is still obsessing over the Marc Rich pardon. But, really, how much of an "outrage" could it really be? Why, Mrs. Clinton is running for the presidency today and her husband is campaigning vigorously on her behalf right now. Have either one of them ever been asked about the Marc Rich pardon? While Mrs. Clinton has attached herself to the successes of her husband's administration, has anyone ever asked her about the numerous pardon scandals in that administration and her opinion of them? Must our memory be so sloppy, so selective and so skewed?

Why doesn't the Post consider it an "outrage" that Mrs. Clinton's brother collected large fees for pardons? Why doesn't the Post consider the FALN pardons (and Mrs. Clinton's reaction to them) an outrage? Does anyone remember Mrs. Clinton's involvement with the pardon of the Hasidic Jews in the community in New York?

Kalmen Stern, David Goldstein, Benjamin Berger and Jacob Elbaum bilked $40 million worth of student Pell grants and loans from government sources for a phony school in the Hasidic community of New Square. Clinton said that although she attended a White House meeting in which the pardon issue was raised, "I never made any view known." She met with community leaders earlier. She attended the meeting where the pardon was discussed. But she said nothing. Talk about an "outrage!"

Meanwhile, while the watchdog press sleeps, Mrs. Clinton will continue to complain that she is not competing on a level playing field and that it is really tough for her, because she is a woman, and the Obama has it easy. See Post editorial here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cohen's Defense of Holder

Andrew Cohen expects "no great suspense" with respect to the nomination of Eric Holder to be U.S. Attorney General of the United States. In a less than stellar sounding endorsement, Cohen says Holder:
... will be confirmed easily because he is a smart, capable and honest man who is significantly more qualified for the top job at the Justice Department than were his three immediate predecessors (John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey).
Of course, in addition to being more "qualified," Democrats control the Senate and have the votes to confirm anyone, regardless of their perceived relative qualifications. But Cohen says Republicans do not have "any legitimate ammunition to throw." Yes, Holder has made some "controversial choices" but has never shown a "pattern of misconduct or even, necessarily, poor judgment." Did you catch that? "Necessarily?"

Speaking of poor judgment, here is Cohen's sophisticated analysis of Holder's stumbling, bumbling and inexcusable participation in the Marc Rich pardon:
Marc Rich? Please. It’s 2009. The Twin Towers are gone. And Bernie Madoff (and the guys at Lehman Bros and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) make Marc Rich look like a dime-store candy thief.
PardonPower had no idea Madoff and the other "guys" were pardoned! Nor were we informed that they funded Iraq in its effort to kill American troops. But, hey, it is 2009! FALN terrorist bombings, murders and robberies? Hey, it is 2009. Pardons for Weather Underground members? Hey, it is 2009. This "defense" certainly goes far!

Cohen says "the sole mystery" regarding Holder's nomination is whether or not he will be able to avoid scrutiny of his record and judgement and, instead, lecture America on what he see as "the major legal questions of our time" (justice for fugitives and terrorists evidently not being in that category). And he (Cohen) invites Holder to direct the focus away from his own dubious decision making and, instead, get on a "soapbox" and "transform" the hearing into a "clarion call for the incoming administration." That is to say, Cohen would like to see the Holder nomination to become still yet another Bush mud-slinging exercise. There is little doubt that that would be one way to protect the nominee from deserved scrutiny. Although it is not clear to us how critics of the administration's "enhanced interrogation program" would respond to the defense:
Hey, it is 2009." See Andrew Cohen's work here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

McCain: Holder and Marc Rich = Campaign Issue

Fox News reports Sen. John McCain is starting to get a little chatty about Eric Holder's work on the Obama VP selection team. Says McCain:

“I think it is a matter of record that Mr. Holder recommended the pardoning of Mr. (Marc) Rich. And all those things will be taken into consideration by the media and the American people, especially when you are entrusting individuals with one of the most important decisions that a presidential candidate can make before that individual is elected and that is who the running mate is.”
And to think, there are some who have been arguing that the pardon power would not be an issue in this campaign! Let's see, so far we have had:

1. Mike Huckabee pardoning everyone
2. Mitt Romney bragging about how he pardoned no one
3. Romney saying he would "seriouly consider" pardoning the border agents
4. Republican candidates being asked about Scooter Libby in debates
5. Obama criticizing the Libby commutation in stump speeches
6. Hillary Clinton being deeply disappointed by the Libby commutation
7. Giuliani being asked about a possible pardon for Bernard Kerik
8. Hillary Clinton knowing nothing at all about anything related to pardons
9. Mrs. Clinton receiving financial support from her husband's pardon recipients
10. Obama reminding Mrs. Clinton about her husband's Weather Underground pardons
11. Obama's spokesman promising no pardon for Rezko
12. And now ... Eric Holder and Marc Rich

And we still have the rest of the campaign, the last months of the president's term and Bush's final decision on Libby ahead! See Fox News story here.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Context: Carter v. Clinton, Pot v. Kettle

Carol Felsenthal, who is writing a book about Bill Clinton in the post-Clinton era, has written an editorial about the strained relationship between Clinton and fellow former president Jimmy Carter. Along the way she notes:

... Jimmy Carter repaid Bill Clinton and then some by going his own way on foreign affairs in the 1990s; by publicly rebuking Clinton's morals when he was at his nadir; after Monica, after the Marc Rich pardon; in that schoolmarmish manner that only Carter can muster ...

Felsenthal's book will be out in May, so she is concerned that she does not "step on" her own material. Not having the same concerns, I thought I would step a few places I suspect she will not be stepping at all:

In a 2001 speech at Georgia Southwestern State University, Carter called Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich a “disgraceful” and “serious mistake.” Carter also told his audience that, as President of the United States, he “never” pardoned anyone without a “complete investigation" by the Justice Department and a recommendation in favor of clemency. Carter was also critical of the fact that so many of the Clinton’s pardons were granted late in the term. On the same day, Hamilton Jordan, the White House chief of staff during the Carter administration, wrote an editorial which appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Jordan rebuked Clinton for ignoring “certain procedures” that had been “honored and passed along from president to president.” He found it “extremely curious” that Clinton did not seek the “advice and perspective” of prosecuting attorneys in the Marc Rich case and suggested the “ethical atmosphere” of the Clinton White House had “sunk” to an “incredible” level where pardons were just another “perk of office.”

One would never have guessed from the speech and the editorial that Jimmy Carter had granted more individual pardons in the last year of his own administration than he had in any of the previous three years. Nor would one have guessed that Carter had granted his own controversial, late-term pardon to a wealthy individual, with “inside” connections, and in complete opposition to the clearly expressed wishes of officials in the Department of Justice. But that is exactly what happened.

In 1977, Frederic B., E. Bronson, and six others were indicted on 29 counts in a bribery scheme that grossed more than $40 million in profits for Ingram Corporation. The bribes were directed at members of the Metropolitan Sanitary District, a municipal corporation governed by an elected board of trustees, with primary responsibility for sewage disposal in Chicago and surrounding areas. After nine weeks of testimony from more than 50 prosecution witnesses and the presentation of the defense, five of the eight defendants, including 46-year-old Frederic B. Ingram, were convicted. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon B. Nash was officially recognized by the Justice Department for his outstanding work on the case.

Judge John F. Grady concluded Frederic and his co-defendants were “unmitigated by any moral principles whatsoever” and, on December 14, sentenced him to four years in federal prison. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit heard oral arguments on the case in September of 1978 and issued a ruling the following March. As a result, Ingram did not actually begin serving his prison sentence until January 1, 1980. But before Frederic Ingram even served one of his four years, President Jimmy Carter exercised the pardon power and commuted the sentence to a mere 18 months. Carter signed the commutation warrant for Ingram on December 23, 1980, in the final days of his presidency.

A New York Times headline said Carter’s commutation stirred “anger.” A Washington Post editorial noted Carter’s late-term commutation contributed to a “near sonic boom in protests.” Thomas P. Sullivan, the United States attorney whose Chicago office prosecuted the case, would later say that he was “completely unaware” that Carter was “seriously considering” Ingram’s request for clemency. Sullivan called the commutation an “outrage” and reported that his office had filed no less than five objections to the application. The Times reported that the Justice Department’s Parole Commission had also recommended that Ingram serve his full sentence. Yet, as prominent as Carter’s decision was, at the time, it seemed to be all but forgotten when he and his former chief of staff publicly rebuked Bill Clinton in 2001.

See Felsenthal's editorial here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Holder: "Learned" From "Mistakes"

Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder Jr. believes not only that his "experience" qualifies him for U.S. Attorney General, but also his "mistakes" or, more specifically, the "mistakes" he made with respect to Bill Clinton's pardon of fugitive Marc Rich. Holder believes he will actually be a "better" U.S. Attorney General having "learned" from the "experience." Those familiar with the case of Amadou Diallo (the unarmed immigrant who was shot 41 times by 4 police officers) may recall Holder's trite observation that we must "learn" from the "troubling incident." It would stand to reason that this mindset would find the pardon of FALN terrorists "reasonable."

At any rate, with respect to the Marc Rich pardon, Holder outlines his "mistakes" as follows:

1. He should have studied the proposed pardon more before discussing it with President Bill Clinton. Holder claimed he simply knew it was a "substantial tax fraud" case and Rich was a fugitive.
2. He should have consulted with prosecutors
3. He should have "studied" the "issue" more closely before making a statement.

In fact, Holder worked with Jack Quinn in 1999 in an attempt to get prosecutors to sit down at the bargaining table with Mr. Rich, who was a fugitive at the time. Holder thought the prosecutors were being "ridiculous" for their hesitancy to do so. So, when Quinn called Holder with the news that a pardon might be near, Holder said he had "no strong opposition" to such a pardon. He noted, however, that "law enforcement in New York would strongly oppose it" and prosecutors in the Southern District would "howl."

What on earth was there to "study?" What else was there to know?

In addition, it is important to note that Holder did not simply fail to "consult" with prosecutors by "mistake." His failing - if that is the right word - was much, much greater than that. Knowing the views of prosecutors (which Holder also directed as deputy attorney general), he ignored those views, circumvented them, did nothing to keep them informed about the pardon application (thus affording them no opportunity to formally object) and summarily dismissed their work. Merely "consulting" with prosecutors would have accomplished little or nothing if Holder had the disposition and the will to do all of that. Recall, Clinton claimed to have "consulted" all manner of law enforcement personnel regarding the FALN terrorist pardons. But he ignored their almost unanimous opinion and did what he wanted to do.

As expected, Holder has also taken the position of "victim," describing himself as having been "seared" by the pardon. The Rich pardon was not something he facilitated and concealed as deputy attorney general, in charge of the pardon program. It was something he "experienced."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holder: Disqualified!

Andrew C. McCarthy has written an interesting piece entitled, "Opposed to Holder without Apology." It discusses, of course, the nomination of Eric Holder to the position of U.S. Attorney General and should be read in its entirety here. Here are just a very few juicy highlights:

... President-Elect Obama, who promised voters counterterrorism seriousness but has now given us an AG nominee who promoted a corrupt pardon process that sprung mass-murderers from prison … that is, when he wasn’t otherwise busy securing a pass for a notorious fugitive fraudster and orchestrating a SWAT team’s gunpoint-seizure of a six-year-old child for transport to a communist tyranny.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hollywood Reporter: #AlternateFacts

Hollywood Reporter says, "Tinseltown's closest brush with a presidential pardon came in January 2001 with commodities trader Marc Rich, who once owned 20th Century Fox with Marvin Davis."
Hollywood's closest brush with a presidential pardon came in January 2001 with commodities trader Marc Rich, who once owned 20th Century Fox with Marvin Davis. In 1981, the pair paid $722 million for the studio, with Rich acting as a silent partner and Davis having voting control. All went relatively well for two years until Rich was indicted for back taxes, wire fraud and a baroque illegal oil scheme with Iran.
Really interesting, but wrong.

See Joseph Schenck (creator of Twentieth Century Pictures that merged with Fox Film Corporation in 1935) - pardoned by Harry Truman, Al Jennings (star of many silent movies) - pardoned by Theodore Roosevelt, Duncan Renaldo (The Cisco Kid) - pardoned by Franklin Roosevelt, as well as H.B. Warner, who starred in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and The Ten Commandments (1956), The King of Kings (1927) - and who also obtained a famous pardon for two others. Franklin Roosevelt also commuted the sentence of Albert N. Chapereau, a smuggler involved in a case with Jack Benny and George Burns. Finally, it is well known that Hollywood producer Harry Thomason, lobbied Bill Clinton for two pardons. Steven Spielberg lobbied for the posthumous pardon of Charlie Winters.

See fake news story here.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Defending Marc Rich. Screwing Up Basic History.

Just when you think the world could not possibly get more entertaining ... Seth Lipsky has written this editorial in the New York Times defending Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon of fugitive millionaire Democratic party contributor Marc Rich. Lipsky says up front that he "came to like" Mr. Rich after meeting him "several" times. Perhaps that is why he uses words like "moved" instead of "flee," and "working" instead of "fugitive." Likewise, Lipsky credits Bill Clinton for "understanding" the pardon power, as evidenced in the editorial that Clinton composed after the Rich pardon. But Lipsky says nothing at all about the editorial's various errors and misrepresentations. Other commentators will, no doubt, blast the piece for these reasons, and others. But this is the passage that is truly unforgivable:
One of the most astonishing things about the record left by the founders is how passionately they wrestled with the pardon question. Gilbert Livingston, at the New York ratifying convention, demanded a requirement that the Congress approve a pardon for treason. George Mason, one of Virginia’s delegates to the constitutional convention, warned that a president could use the pardon to protect his own guilt. Yet, save for cases of impeachment, all calls for restrictions were rejected. It is clear that the founders understood the pardon as one of the most basic checks and balances of the constitutional system.
Lipsky should not be allowed to paint in the corner of a canvass and declare he has accomplished a gallery's worth of art. The "founders" spent very little time at all discussing the pardon power as 1) it was not present in the Articles of Confederation 2) it was not in the Virginia Plan, discussed for weeks at the constitutional convention and 3) it was not in the New Jersey Plan, presented as an alternative to the Virginia Plan.

Indeed, the pardon power was not even in the first draft of the Constitution submitted to the Committee on Detail. Instead, a single delegate on the Committee (John Rutledge of South Carolina) scribbled the pardon power into the margin of the Constitution. Rutledge's handiwork was first discussed near the end of the Convention, at the end of the day. Therefore, one of "the most astonishing things" is really how little Mr. Lipsky knows about the "record" left by the founders on the pardon power.

Were concerns expressed about the power - once it was finally noticed, and once it was discussed at the ratifying conventions? Well, of course! As employed by the King of England, the power was gross and obnoxious. And the colonies and the states took numerous steps to restrict it use by governors. Lipsky seems oblivious to this fact. Thus, the only thing that is really "clear" is that there were very few fans of the pardon power at the time of the constitutional convention and its insertion into the Constitution was a political stunt that succeeded only because 1) the convention was stacked with Federalists and 2) the ratification process was designed so that states had to accept or reject the entire document.

Sign up for a basic American Government course at your local community college Mr. Lipsky. You need to brush up on the basics before you take on something like defending the people you "like" from the long arm of the law.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Daily News on Holder Nomination

The New York Daily News reports would-be attorney general Eric Holder "faces a roasting from Senate Republicans." Unfortunately, the focus will be on "his role in former President Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich." This is, of course, further evidence that the Republicans are indeed still obsessed with Rich, and would rather continue their failed effort to establish his pardon as "the most controversial ever" - as opposed to ensuring there is a legitimate confirmation process for Holder. Indeed, the The News says, "But the GOP's aim isn't to scuttle Holder. It's to make Senate Democrats squirm."

Of course, it is difficult to imagine very much squirming going on. The Democrats will have plenty of votes for confirmation. We all know it was Clinton who granted the pardon, not Holder. And when Holder claims he was the innocent victim of circumstances, Democrats will nod their heads in deep sympathy and the Republicans harangue will simply melt away. Republican Senators will come across as (and certainly be caricatured as) divisive and backward-looking, irrelevant politicians pining to envelope a nice, classy, very well-credentialed guy in scandals that are ancient history to many supporters of the country's first a-historical president.

Janet Reno told The News that the Marc Rich pardon is the worst thing Holder's critics can bring up. Says, Reno, "I have some concerns about it because it's never really evolved." And Reno advises her former deputy to offer a "candid, factual explanation" during his upcoming confirmation hearing. Yes, even Reno knows that focusing on Rich alone is a pure waste of time. See Daily News article here.

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