After Eric Holder’s confirmation hearing nearly two weeks ago, senators on the Judiciary Committee submitted follow-up questions for him to answer in writing. In his hearing testimony, as in 2001 when Congress investigated the scandalous Clinton pardons, Holder’s feeble explanation for the central role he played in the Marc Rich pardon was that he didn’t really know who fugitive financier was, and never took the time to inform himself, when he was approached to intercede on Rich’s behalf. In his follow-up questions (question 1b, specifically) Sen. Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican, probed Holder’s claim of ignorance:
Specter: Did you receive information about the facts of the Rich case from anyone other than Mr. Rich’s attorney, Jack Quinn?
Oops. Evidently, that time in 1995 when Holder (then U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia) had his office sue one of Rich’s companies for concealing its relationship to Rich in order to obtain $45 million in government contracts must have slipped his mind.
I’ve asked the obvious, almost rhetorical question whether any conservative or Republican who had been involved in the Rich pardon would ever be nominated attorney general, much less confirmed. Recall 2007, for example, when Senate Democrats were up in arms over the mere rumor that President Bush might nominate the superlative Ted Olson. No one even suggested that Olson had engaged in misconduct (much less “unconscionable” conduct, as Holder’s behavior was described by a congressional report on the Rich pardon). Instead, Olson’s “problems” were that he had had the audacity to represent President Bush in the Bush v. Gore saga and had engaged in partisan politics in reaction to the Clinton scandals. (Contrast Holder, whose firm brags about its representation of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay and who was an unabashed anti-Bush partisan–evidenced by his June 2008 speech to the left-leaning American Constitution Society, described here.)
Now I’ll try these questions:
Would a conservative or Republican attorney general or AG nominee get away with the testimony Holder has given about Marc Rich?
Would a single Democrat vote to confirm him?
Would the media be ignoring his testimony?
Would Republican Senators be holding firm in lockstep support of the president’s choice?
We know the answers, but the questions are still worth asking–asking of Republicans, most of whom seem content to go with the Obama flow, and Democrats, who told us during the Gonzales days that a lawyer who is not accurate and forthright in answering Congress’s questions is unfit to lead the Justice Department.