A Rich Vein for Holder Questions
Will the Senate Judiciary Committee ask them?


Andrew C. McCarthy

Did Holder know virtually nothing about the case against Marc Rich at the time he tried to help the fugitive get out from under the indictment? Did he remain willfully ignorant of Rich’s crimes when, months later, he worked behind the scenes against his own prosecutors to secure the pardon? Yes–a congressional investigation concluded that Holder’s “sum total of knowledge about Rich came from a page of talking points provided to him by Jack Quinn in 2000, before the pardon effort had even begun.” In fact, Holder told Quinn that he didn’t want a copy of the pardon petition–taking a copy would have made it harder for Holder to avoid learning details about Rich’s crimes, and harder for him to justify circumventing the Justice Department’s pardon process.

Is it really fair to say Holder was working for an international fugitive against his own Justice Department? Is it fair to say he arranged to have Quinn go straight to President Clinton rather than through the DOJ pardon process which Holder was responsible for upholding? It is more than fair–it is exactly what the congressional committee that investigated the Rich pardon said:

The evidence indicates that Eric Holder was deliberately assisting Quinn with the Rich petition, and deliberately cut the rest of the Justice Department out of the process to help Quinn obtain the pardon for Marc Rich. This conclusion is supported by the following email, which was sent by Quinn to [other Rich lawyers] on November 18, 2000 . . . :

Subject: eric

spoke to him last evening. he says go straight to wh. also says timing is good. we shd get in soon. will elab when we speak.

As the committee concluded, this e-mail demonstrated that Holder told Quinn to send the Rich pardon application directly to the White House rather than to the DOJ’s pardon attorney (who reported to Holder). It also showed that Holder had been giving the matter plenty of thought and believed the timing was optimal for Rich to get favorable treatment. This, as the committee concluded, “contradict[ed] the heart of Holder’s defense,” provided to Congress under oath, that he was not focused on the Rich pardon until weeks later, in the waning January days of Clinton’s second term.

Was Holder’s explanation of his conduct among the most incoherent, implausible testimony that Congress had ever heard? Did he, for example, take the astounding position that being a fugitive actually helps a pardon petition because the lack of a conviction after trial leaves no way to evaluate the strength of the case? Did he indicate that, in a choice between Justice Department prosecutors who’d built a case approved by a grand jury and a fugitive who skips the country rather than answering the charges, he believed it was better to side with the fugitive?

Yes, yes, and yes. That is, no doubt, why the committee found Holder’s testimony “difficult to believe” and concluded that his “actions were unconscionable.” (Compare Chuck Schumer, July 26, 2007: “The attorney general is meant to be the chief law enforcement officer of the land. He must be a person of truth and candor and integrity”; Mark Pryor, March 15, 2007: “When an attorney general lies to a United States senator, I think it is time for that attorney general to go.”)

Let’s completely set aside Holder’s key participation in the equally inexplicable pardons of FALN terrorists. With the Marc Rich debacle on his résumé, could any Republican–any Republicanhope to be confirmed for any job, much less the nation’s highest law-enforcement office?

Do we really have to ask?

National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy is the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books 2008).