Eric Holder’s role in the Rich pardon is looking worse and worse. The author of a history of presidential pardons writes that Holder was in the thick of it:
On Nov. 18, 2000, Mr. Quinn [Marc Rich’s lawyer] told Mr. Holder that Mr. Rich was going to go for a pardon, a step his team had been contemplating for months. After the conversation, Mr. Quinn told colleagues that Mr. Holder had advised him to “go straight to” the White House and that the “timing is good.” On Dec. 11, just over a month before Mr. Clinton was to leave office, Mr. Quinn delivered the pardon papers to the White House. “The greatest danger lies with the lawyers,” Mr. Quinn wrote in an e-mail message to an aide to Mr. Rich, referring to the prosecutors in New York. “I have worked them hard and I am hopeful that E. Holder will be helpful to us.”
Under the rules governing pardon petitions — rules that were approved by Mr. Holder’s office — the views of United States attorneys “are given considerable weight” because of the “valuable insights” they have. And yet Mr. Holder did not consult Ms. White and her colleagues about the Rich pardon petition; they did not know of it until it had been granted.
Then, on Jan. 19, 2001, Mr. Holder delivered his pardon assessment to the White House, telling Beth Nolan, the White House counsel, that he was “neutral leaning favorable” on the Rich pardon. His decision, he added, was influenced by the support of Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister.
The people in the United States attorney’s office in New York weren’t the only ones surprised by Mr. Holder’s decision. Deborah Smolover, his top deputy for pardon cases, did not find out about the pardon for Mr. Rich until the White House called to inform her of it after midnight on Jan. 20. (Mr. Green [Rich’s business partner] won a pardon, too.) After the pardon was signed, Mr. Quinn has testified, Mr. Holder called him to commend him on “a very good job.” Mr. Holder also asked Mr. Quinn to consider hiring two former aides, one of whom had already contacted Mr. Quinn on Jan. 2 “at Holder’s suggestion.”
At the very best, Holder was guilty of dereliction of duty, failing to carry out basic due diligence. But given his evidently close connections to Rich’s attorney, it looks even worse than that.