Eric Holder Blowback — Do the NYTimes and WaPo read FDL?
Posted in: Justice Department
You may recall that some of us here at FDL have been trying to point out to President Elect Obama that Eric Holder may not be the best choice for AG. [That link will take you to a post with links to a whole bunch of posts]
Not just for the Marc Rich pardon, but also for his handling of the Chiquita payments to terrorists case. There is a disturbing pattern in his behavior of going around the normal rules to get special treatment for the rich and already over privileged.
Some of our commenters pointed out that we were out here all alone, simply howling into the wind.
Well, I’m feeling a little less lonely today. Richard Cohen has a piece in today’s WaPo. The money quote?
But the pardon cannot be excepted. It suggests that Holder, whatever his other qualifications, could not say no to power. The Rich pardon request had power written all over it — the patronage of important Democratic fundraisers, for instance. Holder also said he was "really struck" by the backing of Rich by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the possibility of "foreign policy benefits that would be reaped by granting the pardon." This is an odd standard for American justice, but more than that, what was Holder thinking? That U.S.-Israeli relations would suffer? Holder does not sound naive. He sounds disingenuous.
Holder sounded just as disingenuous when he told a House committee that he did not "reflexively oppose" the pardon of a fugitive because "I had previously supported a successful pardon request for a fugitive, Preston King." King, a black civil rights activist, chose to be tried for draft evasion in 1961 rather than submit to what he considered racist treatment. After his conviction, he fled to Europe. The two cases are not in the least similar.
As noted, any person is entitled to make a mistake. But no one is entitled to be attorney general. That’s a post that ought to be reserved for a lawyer who appreciates that while he reports to the president, he serves the people. This dual obligation was beyond the ken of George W. Bush’s attorney general once removed, Alberto Gonzales, whose idea of telling truth to power came down to saying "Yes, sir. Yes, sir." On Guantanamo, domestic spying and Bush’s "l’État c’est moi" view of the presidency, Gonzales was a cipher, and the damage of his tenure still needs to be repaired.
Go read the whole thing.
Eric Lichtbau and David Johnston have one of their typically well investigated stories in today’s NYTimes. There are lots of new details. They have even managed to document a story I heard around Foley Square, namely, that Eric Holder told Rich’s people to hire Jack Quinn, and that they did so, and then Holder and Quinn cooked up a variety of attempts to get Rich what he wanted, to the chagrin of USAO SDNY, then held by Mary Jo White. The story I heard was a bit different. The version I heard was that Scooter Libby was told by Holder to hire Jack Quinn during a phone conversation when Libby called up to complain about SDNY not being willing to play ball. So, maybe he made the suggestion twice? Dunno. Maybe something for Eric and David to follow up on?
At a corporate dinner in November 1998, Mr. Holder was seated at a table with a public-relations executive named Gershon Kekst, who had been trying to help Mr. Rich resolve his legal troubles.
When Mr. Kekst learned that his dinner companion was the deputy attorney general, he proceeded to bring up the case of an unnamed acquaintance who had been “improperly indicted by an overzealous prosecutor,” according to the Congressional inquiry.
A person in that situation, Mr. Holder advised, should “hire a lawyer who knows the process, he comes to me, we work it out.” Mr. Kekst wanted to know if Mr. Holder could suggest a lawyer. Mr. Holder pointed to a former White House counsel sitting nearby. “There’s Jack Quinn,” he said. “He’s a perfect example.”
[my bold] How does Holder know he’s going to "work it out" BEFORE he even knows what the case is about? Oh, and later in the article, there is a claim that the case is an example of Rudy Giuliani being overzealous. No, not Rudy. Hell, Rudy left before the Clinton Admin even began. There were two USA’s — Benito Romano and Otto Obermier — between him and Mary Jo, so any Holder spin about an overcharge by Rudy is bullfeathers. That indictment was reviewed by 3 subsequent US Attorneys, and it was Democrat Mary Jo White that Holder stabbed in the back with his end run around her authority.