The confirmation of Eric Holder, Jr. is running into some trouble with the planned appearance of witnesses about his role in some of the infamous pardons by Bill Clinton. Some of the greatest abuse of the pardon power occurred in the final week of the Clinton administration, including his use of official power to benefit a family member with the pardon of Roger Clinton. Ironically, however, it is not the most abusive pardons that is attracting the ire of Republicans.
It is hard to feel sympathy of Clinton officials who assisted in the pardons of Roger Clinton, Marc Rich and others. The pardoning of campaign contributors and a family member was shameful abuse of power by Clinton. Holder should be questioned about his role in these abuses. I would personally like to know if Holder was aware of the Roger Clinton pardon and sought to discourage the President in the use of official power to benefit his own family or whether he raised questions on the other pardons like Marc Rich — who seems completely without a meritorious basis for a pardon.
However, the GOP is focusing on the 1999 grant of clemency to members of a Puerto Rican terrorist organization, which was not viewed as abusive but simply unpopular. Former pardon attorney, Roger Adams, has gone public with allegations that Holder pressured staff to drop their opposition to the pardon. However, there was nothing in this pardon (supported by members of Congress, religious groups and President Carter) that was done for personal or political gain — unlike Clinton’s other pardons.
It just shows that politicians can accidentally stumble on an issue of merit and find the one issue that involves not principle but politics.
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