There’s been a steady drip of revelations about Attorney-General Nominee Eric Holder. We already know of his central involvement in the Rich pardon (and more here), his involvement in the paramilitary capture of Elian Gonzalez without a court order, and his advocation of Internet censorship. In recent days we’ve had three more revelations:
The LA Times reports that Holder overruled his Justice Department subordinates to support a pardon for Puerto Rican terrorists, and that he muzzled the Pardon Attorney when he tried to protest:
Attorney general nominee Eric H. Holder Jr. repeatedly pushed some of his subordinates at the Clinton Justice Department to drop their opposition to a controversial 1999 grant of clemency to 16 members of two violent Puerto Rican nationalist organizations, according to interviews and documents.
Details of the role played by Holder, who was deputy attorney general at the time, had not been publicly known until now. The new details are of particular interest because Republican senators have vowed to revisit Holder’s role during his confirmation hearings next week. . .
President Clinton’s decision to commute prison terms caused an uproar at the time. Holder was called before Congress to explain his role but declined to answer numerous questions from angry lawmakers demanding to know why the Justice Department had not sided with the FBI, federal prosecutors and other law enforcement officials, who were vehemently opposed to the grants. . .
Holder instructed his staff at Justice’s Office of the Pardon Attorney to effectively replace the department’s original report recommending against any commutations, which had been sent to the White House in 1996, with one that favored clemency for at least half the prisoners . . . And after Pardon Attorney Roger Adams resisted, Holder’s chief of staff instructed him to draft a neutral “options memo” instead, Adams said.
The options memo allowed Clinton to grant the commutations without appearing to go against the Justice Department’s wishes, Adams and his predecessor, Margaret Colgate Love, said in their first public comments on the case.
(Via Hot Air.)
And third, how could the story be complete without a connection to the Blagojevich scandal? The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
Before Eric Holder was President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to be attorney general, he was Gov. Blagojevich’s pick to sort out a mess involving Illinois’ long-dormant casino license.
Blagojevich and Holder appeared together at a March 24, 2004, news conference to announce Holder’s role as “special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board” — a post that was to pay Holder and his Washington, D.C. law firm up to $300,000.
Holder, however, omitted that event from his 47-page response to a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire made public this week — an oversight he plans to correct after a Chicago Sun-Times inquiry, Obama’s transition team indicated late Tuesday. . . Holder signed the questionnaire on Sunday — five days after Blagojevich’s arrest for allegedly putting Obama’s U.S. Senate seat up for sale.
The March 2004 Chicago news conference where Holder and Blagojevich spoke was widely covered because of a controversial 4-1 Gaming Board vote earlier that month to allow a casino to be built in Rosemont. That vote defied the recommendation of the board’s staff, which had raised concerns about alleged organized-crime links to the Rosemont casino’s developer.
(Via Hot Air.)
Holder was given a lucrative appointment, by Blagojevich, as the “special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board” to investigate a controversial decision raising concerns about links to organized crime. Now, he says he forgot the whole thing, despite the fact that Blagojevich’s scandal had been the top story for nearly a week when he completed the Senate questionnaire. Worse, he never remembered the matter until the Sun-Times uncovered it.
The Holder nomination is tainted from nearly every direction now: political pardons, corruption, infringement of civil liberties. It will be very interesting to see what Senate Democrats do with it, or if it even makes it to the Senate.