I’ll concede this much to Lanny Davis: Last Friday night, during our Hannity & Colmes debate over President-Elect Barack Obama’s selection of Eric Holder to be the next Attorney General, Davis said (or I should say, screeched) that I’d soon be apologizing, and he’s right. I am sorry that our discussion degenerated into a screaming match. That’s wince-making television that doesn’t edify anyone. So I do apologize to anyone who had to endure that segment.
But Davis’s hysterical suggestion that I apologize to Eric Holder is, well, hysterical. And out of the question.
In my mind, it is Holder who owes an apology — he and his cheerleaders like Lanny Davis, who has never seen a sow’s ear that couldn’t be warped into a silk purse (and isn’t it a thrill to see that “Change” has already put Lanny back on the side of power?); like the leading Democrats who’ve addled us for years with their “grave” concerns about the Justice Department’s lost integrity (it turns out they were kidding); and like President-Elect Obama, who promised voters counterterrorism seriousness but has now given us an AG nominee who promoted a corrupt pardon process that sprung mass-murderers from prison … that is, when he wasn’t otherwise busy securing a pass for a notorious fugitive fraudster and orchestrating a SWAT team’s gunpoint-seizure of a six-year-old child for transport to a communist tyranny.
Let’s be blunt here: The Marc Rich pardon was one of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of the Justice Department. Not the modern history, the entire history. Rich was accused of mega-crimes: millions in fraud, tax-evasion, and trading with the America’s enemies. In 2000, he was a fugitive. He had been one for nearly two decades, during which the government had expended immense resources in a futile attempt to apprehend him.
Mind you, flitting from country to country to avoid prosecution, as Rich was doing, is itself a felony. When Eric Holder aided and abetted Rich’s pardon effort, he was not only grossly violating the Justice Department policy it was his job to uphold; he was dealing with the agents of someone who was actively committing a serious federal crime. That’s why, when prosecutors deal with a fugitive’s representatives, the appropriate question is: “When is he going to turn himself in?” It’s not, as Holder essentially asked, “What can I do to help?”
Holder, then Clinton administration deputy attorney general, steered the fugitive toward a friendly Clinton insider: former White House Counsel Jack Quinn. That enabled the most-wanted fugitive to lobby the President directly — and in violation of an executive order barring lobbying by recently departed White House staffers — without nettlesome interference from the Justice Department’s long-established, procedurally rigorous pardon process. In order to protect the public, that process called for input from the case prosecutors and investigators. As Holder well knew, following it would have demonstrated beyond cavil that pardoning Rich would be an outrage, in violation of every DOJ guideline.
Moreover, Holder extended his helping hand with the crassest of motives: the careerist was hoping the influential Quinn would look favorably on Holder’s quest to become attorney general in a Gore administration. That is, Holder was actively soliciting help from Quinn (Vice President Gore’s former counsel and friend) at the very time he was providing invaluable help to Quinn’s fugitive client — first in unsuccessfully pushing Rich’s preposterous effort to settle the case without jail time with prosecutors in New York, then in overcoming the uniform objections of White House staffers to a Rich pardon.
And the cherry on top: The scenario in which Holder’s sell-out of Justice Department principle took place was scummy in every particular; multi-millionaire Rich’s ex-wife and staunchest supporter, Denise Rich, was making mega-bucks donations to Clinton causes (according to Time, $400,000 to the Clinton Library Fund, $10,000 to the Clinton Legal Defense Fund, and over $1 million to Democrat campaigns during the Clinton era — including $70,000 for the 2000 Senate campaign of Hillary Clinton, now Obama’s pick for secretary of State).
No Republican who’d entangled himself even slightly in such an incident could ever again seek a position requiring Senate confirmation. Democrat Eric Holder was in this one up to his eyeballs.
THE TERRORIST PARDONS
Now consider this: As execrable as the Rich pardon was, it wasn’t even the worst thing that happened that day.
Having already exhausted the country with his excesses, President Clinton’s swan song was one of his worst: a mind-blowing series of pardons. It included not only the Rich escapade but pardons of two Weather Underground terrorists, Susan Rosenberg and Linda Sue Evans. As it happens, I know a great deal about the Rosenberg case. For over a year prior to Clinton’s commutation of her richly deserved 58-year sentence, it was mine.
At the time, I was a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York — the office from which Holder was desperate to conceal his stove-piped pardon process since our knowledge of the Rich case would have blown to bits the absurd but unrefuted arguments Quinn was permitted to make directly to President Clinton.