A Hold on Holder: AG Nominee Hits a Snag in Senate

ericholderPresident-elect Barack Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., was viewed as a shoe-in for confirmation. Now, however, the GOP is closing in on Holder’s alleged role in three controversial nominations and have asked to delay the hearings. In the meantime, a grand jury is now looking into a donor of Bill Richardson, who has been nominated for Commerce Secretary.

At least eight Republican senators want a delay, including Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

Holder played a key role in one of most controversial one of the 177 pardons and commutations that President Clinton issued on his last day in office in January 2001 — that of fugitive financier Marc Rich. Rich’s ex-wife and supporter donated millions to Clinton’s campaigns, his library and other Democratic recipients. Frankly, I have never met anyone who could come up with a reason why Rich merited serious review, let alone a pardon from Clinton.

This is probably not enough to sink Holder, but it is part of Clinton’s lasting legacy of pardon abuses, including the outrageous act of giving his own brother a pardon. I consider the Roger Clinton pardon to be one of the greatest abuses in the history of presidential pardons. Rich, however, is not far behind. The problem for the democrats is that no one can defend Clinton’s pardon on the merits (which are nonexistent).

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12 thoughts on “A Hold on Holder: AG Nominee Hits a Snag in Senate”

  1. Prof. Turley,
    I nominated you for Attorney General, but I guess you are too pro-Constitution for the Washington elite!(Although I have to admit that Obama did not return my email on the subject) That being said, I have to admit that, in my opinion, the Clinton pardon of his brother is nowhere near the top of the numerous abuses of the presidential pardon power, mainly due to the crime that was involved. I agree with Mike that Nixon’s pardon was and is still the greatest abuse of power in the history of Presidential pardons. To this day, I still submit that the pardon was bargained for by Nixon before he agreed to resign. I have no evidence of that, but I can’t imagine Nixon leaving office without a “Blagojevich” deal. For Pres. Ford to claim it healed the country is humorous. If that logic is accurate, why do any white collar crimes go to jail? I also list the Scooter Libby commutation as worse than Clinton’s brother. Not to mention that I still expect the full pardon for Scooter to be coming any day now. In light of the crimes committed by the Iran-Contra perps, even they rank above Roger Clinton. At that point, Roger Clinton and Marc Rich might have a battle for the next spot on the dubious list. By the way, Congrats again to the Turley Naval Armada and their success this weekend. I still like the furry ship the best!

  2. Why can’t we make Patrick Fitzgerald the AG. He certainly has earned it these past few years. Especially in light of recent days, it would be an excellent sign that Obama is committed to turning the office back into a non-partisan lawyer for the people, instead of an extension of the White House Counsel’s office.

  3. “Why aren’t legal scholars from academia ever considered for AG?”

    I consider the AG job to be the fourth most important job after POTUS, Speaker of the House, and Senate majority leader. You usual want a loyalist but also someone with enough Congressional cred to get things done. If the Congress doesn’t trust the AG he usually goes. Even Gonzalez who was forced to resign.

  4. ….I consider the Roger Clinton pardon to be one of the greatest abuses in the history of presidential pardons. Rich, however, is not far behind….
    Yeah, right. Compared to G. H. W. Bush’s pardons that sealed the Iran-Contra coverup? Compared to Ford’s pardon of Nixon or Nixon’s pardon of Jimmy Hoffa? Get a grip.
    Clinton’s pardon of Susan McDougal was one of the great acts of justice along with Carter’s pardon of Vietnam draft resisters.


    It is a huge mistake for Leahy to give any consideration to Republican trouble making on this hearing. They are just playing their usual political games: Ashcroft, Gonzales, Mukasey? Give me a break.

  5. I wouldn’t mind Obama nominating Patrick Fitzgerald for AG if Holder doesn’t make it. This man has shown tenacity and actual respect for the law (a trait sorely missing in the Bush WH). He appears to be a man of integrity who has not been tainted by partizan politics.

  6. Why aren’t legal scholars from academia ever considered for AG?

    Obama selected an academic physicist for Secretary of Energy. Such selections are important, instead of giving key positions to political cronies, especially with legal positions from which substantial constitutional desecrations often occur.

  7. JT:

    I agree with your assessment on his role in Padilla, but I suspect significant pressure was applied to him to impose those measures. There are no saints in this business and conservatives usually rule the day at the AG’s office, but I do trust his judgment in matters relating to the myriad of other issues facing DOJ. “Mixed bag” may be the best we can hope for given the current stand of the Senate Repubs.

  8. No one has explained this, so does anyone know why the same people who threatened to resign over Bush’s syping program, (and I’m grateful for that) silently let the program continue for at least 5 weeks after their protest?

  9. David Shuster reported on Countdown last Friday that Specter has his own reason to delay AG confirmation – a “Congressional delegation” visiting England, Austria, Israel, and maybe one or two other places. The “delegation” consists of Mr. and Mrs. Arlen Specter.

  10. I would nominate Jim Comey if Holder can’t make it through. Who better to battle the beast than one who has seen it close up!

    1. Mespo:

      I agree with the sentiment. However, other than his stand on the NSA program, Comey was hardly a ray of light. His role in the Padilla abuses are a good example of a very mixed record on civil liberties.


  11. >This is probably not enough to sink Holder….

    After all the devastating damage the GOP has done to this country in these past eight horrific years, one wonders why they can’t just do the right thing and go sit in the corner, don’t touch anything and most importantly STFU?

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