A.G. Candidate Eric Holder May Have More Pardon Questions To Answer Beyond Marc Rich

Eric Holder/law firm photo
Eric Holder/law firm photo

By Jeffrey Anderson
Baltimore City Paper

The only issue even remotely standing in the way of Eric Holder being confirmed as the next U.S. Attorney General seems to be his role in the 2001 pardon of federal fugitive and billionaire Marc Rich, who fled the country after being charged with tax evasion.
However, a 2002 Congressional Report titled “Justice Undone: Clemency Decisions in the Clinton White House,” called other actions taken by Holder in connection with a commutation petition for convicted drug trafficker Carlos Vignali “disturbing,” and found that Holder “took a similarly irresolute position in the Vignali case” as he did in the Rich pardon. “Carlos Vignali satisfies none of the appropriate grounds for commutation identified in Justice Department regulations,” the report found.
At issue in the Vignali commutation, according to the Congressional report, was then Deputy Attorney General Holder’s decision to pass along to the White House a recommendation by Justice Department pardon attorney Roger Adams that Vignali’s petition be denied, rather than sign the recommendation himself, as was Justice Department process. The report found that Holder allowed Adams, a subordinate, to oppose the Vignali commutation “while refusing to go on the record against a commutation the President apparently wanted to grant and the President’s own brother-in-law supported.”
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