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Watching the Holder nomination hearing. Sen. Pat Leahy just asked him to explain what he learned from the Marc Rich pardon fiasco.
Transcribing quickly here:
HOLDER: I made mistakes and my conduct, my actions in the rich matter, were the place where I made mistakes. I appeared before two congressional cmts and said that. Never tried to hide or blame anybody else. Given oppty to do differently, I would have. I should have not spoken to white house without knowing all the facts. It was the most intense, searing experience I ever had as a lawyer. I’ve learned from that experience and as perverse as this might sound, I will be a better AG having had the marc rich experience. It’s not typical of the way I’ve conducted myself as careful lawyer. I’ve learned from that mistake.
LEAHY: And Bill Clinton issued the pardon, not you.
But, you know, he’s not blaming anyone else. Way to take responsibility.
Here’s some good reading while they drone on: Justice Undone: Clemency Decisions in the Clinton White House . An excerpt:
Eric Holder and Jack Quinn worked together to cut the Justice Department out of the decisionmaking process.
Holder’s decision to support the pardon had a critical impact.
Jack Quinn and Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder worked together to ensure that the Justice Department, especially the prosecutors of the Southern District of New York, did not have an opportunity to express an opinion on the Rich pardon before it was granted. The evidence amassed by the Committee indicates that Holder advised Quinn to file the Rich pardon petition with the White House, and leave the Justice Department out of the process. One e- mail produced to the Committee suggests that Holder told Quinn to “go straight to wh,” and that the “timing is good.” The evidence also indicates that Holder failed to inform the prosecutors under him that the Rich pardon was under consideration, despite the fact that he was aware of the pardon effort for almost two months before it was granted.
Eric Holder’s support of the Rich pardon played a critical role in the success of the pardon effort. Holder informed the White House that he was “neutral, leaning towards favorable” on the Rich pardon, even though he knew that Rich was a fugitive from justice, and that Justice Department prosecutors viewed Rich with such contempt that they would no longer meet with his lawyers. Holder has failed to offer any credible justification for his support of the Rich pardon, leading the Committee to believe that Holder had other motivations for his decision, which he has failed to share with the Committee.
Eric Holder was seeking Jack Quinn’s support to be appointed as Attorney General in a potential Gore Administration, and this may have affected Holder’s judgment in the Rich matter. On several occasions, Holder sought out Quinn’s endorsement to be appointed as Attorney General if Al Gore were to win the November 2000 election. Quinn was a Gore confidant whose endorsement would carry great weight. Holder’s initial help to Quinn in the Rich matter predated the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore, and accordingly, Holder had some legitimate prospect of being appointed Attorney General when he was helping Quinn keep the Rich matter from the Justice Department’s scrutiny. While Holder denies
that his desire to be appointed Attorney General had anything to do with his actions in the Rich matter, it provides a much clearer and more believable motivation than any offered by Holder to date.
10:54am Eastern. Arlen Specter just finished questioning Holder about the Rich decision. We got a few “I don’t knows” and “I don’t recalls” and “It’s hard for me to explains” out of Holder.
Underwhelming. Anyone else see it?
Oh, and I suppose his ties to Blago also make him a better AG.
Update 11:03am Eastern. Sen. Kohl asks the vitally important question facing our nation: Will Holder promise to beat Obama in basketball? Entire room erupts in laughter. Holder soaks up the love.