Eric Holder Could Face Tough Questions About Controversial Pardon For Marc Rich

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

President-elect Obama’s pick of Eric Holder as the new Attorney General is getting a thumbs up from many career Justice employees. And the likelihood of him being confirmed is high. But during confirmation hearings he’s likely to face some tough questions about the controversial pardon of billionaire Marc Rich while he served as deputy Attorney Gen. under President Clinton.

By George Larnder Jr.
New York Times
Op-Ed Page

WASHINGTON — WHEN President Bill Clinton pardoned a billionaire fugitive from justice on his last day in office, even usually loyal Democrats were dismayed. Representative Henry Waxman of California called it “bad precedent” and “an end run around the judicial process.” He said it appeared to set a double standard for the wealthy and powerful.
The billionaire was Marc Rich, a commodities trader, and his pardon is a subject of discussion again because Eric Holder, Mr. Clinton’s deputy attorney general at the time and a key figure in the clemency process, is reported to be Barack Obama’s choice for attorney general. In the years since the Rich pardon, Mr. Holder has said he “never devoted a great deal of time to this matter.” He also told an interviewer that, in hindsight, he wished that the Justice Department had been “more fully informed” about the case. As someone who helped cover the story for The Washington Post, I think the issue is far more complicated and deserves more scrutiny if Mr. Holder is to become our top law-enforcement official.
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