None of this is new news. While the Senate was considering Holder’s nomination, I laid the facts out in an NRO column on January 21, 2009. Four days later, I reported that Holder had again claimed ignorance about Rich in his written answers to follow-up questions. I pleaded that he be further pressed on the matter — not only by Republicans but by Democrats who, during the tenure of Bush AG Alberto Gonzales, had been strident in emphasizing the obligation of attorneys general to provide Congress with truthful, accurate testimony.
Alas, Senate Republicans were apparently mollified by private assurances Holder reportedly made to them to the effect that, if he were confirmed, the Justice Department would not seek to prosecute officials involved in the Bush-era enhanced-interrogation program. (I’m constrained to observe that, in the event, Holder reopened investigations against CIA officers involved in the program and continued professional-responsibility probes of Bush DOJ officials who had provided opinions about the program’s legal validity.) Cowed by the prospect of opposing confirmation of the nation’s first African-American attorney general — as if there were anything wrong with rejecting a nominee of any heritage who had a record as checkered as Holder’s — the senators decided Holder’s troubling testimony was not worth pursuing. He was confirmed 75 to 21, with substantial GOP support.