President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team has signaled to Eric H. Holder Jr., a senior official in the Justice Department in the Clinton administration, that he will be chosen as attorney general, but no final decision has been made, people involved in the process said Tuesday.
His last days at the Justice Department in 2001 were marred by his peripheral involvement in Mr. Clinton’s pardon of the fugitive financier Marc Rich, as Republicans sharply criticized Mr. Holder as failing to oppose the pardon and allowing the White House to bypass the normal pardon review process at the Justice Department.
Mr. Holder told the Clinton White House at the time that he was “neutral, leaning toward favorable” on the idea of pardoning Mr. Rich, whose former wife, Denise Rich, had contributed heavily to Mr. Clinton’s presidential library.
Eric H. Holder Jr. New Attorney General?
Who is Eric H. Holder? As a young attorney in Justice's fledgling Public Integrity Section, Mr. Holder helped bring cases against Philadelphia judges. President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the D.C. Superior Court. There, Mr. Holder gained a reputation as a thoughtful and even-handed jurist. He favored neither the government nor criminal defendants; nor did he reflexively favor the little guy against business, or vice versa. So far very good!
As the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia in the early 1990s, Mr. Holder presided over the high-profile corruption prosecution of former Democratic powerhouse Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois. Rostenkowski, as chairman of the congressional Ways and Means Committee, was in a position to help the Clinton administration to implement its agenda for health care reform. Nonetheless, Holder persisted with the investigation and even widened its scope. He told the Washington Post that matters of criminal prosecution must be handled without regard to partisan politics. "The idea that a Democratic U.S. attorney is going to do something different than a Republican U.S. attorney is pretty close to ridiculous," Holder observed. This even sounds better!
But in the last days of the Clinton administration, Eric H. Holder stood by and said nothing when President Clinton's pardon Dan Rostenkowski, the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee who pleaded guilty to mail fraud charges in 1996, This was a misuse of the presidential pardoning power in order to pay back a loyal political lieutenant. Where was Mr. Holder?
The largest blemish on Mr Holder's record is the last minute pardon, by President Bill Clinton, of fugitive and Democratic contributor Marc Rich. Between November 2000 and January 2001 Jack Quinn, Rich's lawyer and former White House Counsel from 1995-96, had been contacting Holder, testing the waters for the political viability of a presidential pardon. After presenting his case to Holder in a November phone call and a last minute January 17th letter, Quinn arranged a phone call between the White House and Holder, asking the Deputy Attorney General to share his opinion on the Rich pardon. Even though Holder gave a "neutral, leaning towards favorable" opinion of the pardon to Clinton, Holder had played a significant role in facilitating the Rich pardon, first by recommending the well-connected Jack Quinn to Marc Rich legal representatives, and by eventually delivering a favorable opinion of the twilight pardon to the President from a position of authority.
Now here are the things that bother me about Eric H. Holder Jr. Holder represented Chiquita. In 2004, Holder helped negotiate an agreement with the Justice Department for Chiquita Brands International in a case that involved Chiquita's payment of "protection money" to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a group on the U.S. government's list of terrorist organizations.
In 2008, Holder joined the Reno-led amicus brief, which urged the Supreme Court to uphold Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban and said the Department of Justice from Franklin Roosevelt through Bill Clinton had always believed that the Second Amendment does not protect the rights of individuals to own guns for personal use.
In April 2004, Holder voiced his opposition to the Bush Administration's implementation of the Patriot Act, saying it is "bad ultimately for law enforcement and will cost us the support of the American people."
Eric H. Holder Jr. believes that the Second Amendment does not protect the rights of individuals to own guns for personal use. Not the right Person for Attorney General.
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