Sunday, June 08, 2008

Nominee Obama’s “first clear, serious mistake?”

Jennifer Rubin at Pajama Media reports: “Obama’s New Advisor Stained by Clinton Pardon Scandal”

Rubin begins - - -

You may not always agree with his political analysis but [former Clinton White House insider] Dick Morris, perhaps better than anyone willing to talk about it, knows his Clinton-ology.

Morris reminded us that Eric Holder, recently appointed by Barack Obama to his vice presidential search committee, played a leading role in one of the most infamous events of a presidency filled with infamy: the pardon of billionaire fugitive Marc Rich.

Morris dubbed the decision to select Holder as Obama’s “first clear, serious mistake.”

Rich, of course, was the commodities trader who fled the country in 1983 to escape prosecution for tax evasion, racketeering, and trading with the enemy.

Rich’s attorneys circumvented normal procedures, took the pardon to the White House attorneys, and gained pardon for their client, whose wife just happened to be a friend and major donor to the Clinton library, the Democratic Party, and Clinton’s legal defense fund.

A firestorm ensued as did congressional investigations in which Democrats as well as Republicans excoriated the Clintons’ conduct. …

Rubin's entire report is here.

Now, some more, folks.

On Mar. 13, 2002 the NY Times reported on the congressional investigation findings.

The Times’ story included this - - -

A forthcoming Congressional report on the last-minute pardons by President Bill Clinton says Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was a ''willing participant in the plan to keep the Justice Department from knowing about and opposing'' a pardon for Marc Rich, the financier.

The 476-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, harshly criticizes the Clinton White House for its handling of the 177 pardons and commutations granted on its last day. …

The most controversial pardon went to Mr. Rich, a commodities trader who fled the country in 1983 rather than face trial on charges of tax evasion, racketeering and trading with the enemy.

The report says that Mr. Rich's lawyers tried to circumvent prosecutors, who would oppose the pardon, and take their case straight to the White House.

Mr. Holder, the report says, played a major role, steering Mr. Rich's lawyers toward Jack Quinn, a former White House counsel. Mr. Rich hired Mr. Quinn, whose Washington contacts and ability to lobby the president made the difference, according to the report.

It says that Mr. Holder's support for the pardon and his failure to alert prosecutors of a pending pardon were just as crucial. …

The panel criticized Mr. Holder's conduct as unconscionable and cited several problems. It cited his admission last year that he had hoped Mr. Quinn would support his becoming attorney general in a Gore administration.

The report quoted an e-mail message on Nov. 18, 2000, that Mr. Quinn sent others on the Rich team as they wrote the pardon petition. In the message, Mr. Quinn recounts speaking to ''Eric'' the night before. ''He says go straight to wh. also says timing is good,'' Mr. Quinn wrote, using shorthand for the White House. …

The report faults Mr. Quinn for lobbying the White House at all in light of prevailing ethics rules that barred top aides from lobbying former colleagues for five years after leaving government.

Mr. Quinn argued that the rules allowed flexibility for judicial proceedings.

But Judge Denny Chin of United States District Court in Manhattan ruled in December that Mr. Quinn's role was more lobbying than lawyering. …

The entire Mar. 13, 2002 NYT report is here.


I don’t know whether appointing Mr. Holder to his VP selection committee is Sen. Obama’s “first clear, serious mistake.”

It may well be that.

But right now we don’t know what else Obama did after he became the presumptive Dem presidential nominee.

Maybe we’ll learn in time he made an even more serious mistake.

What we do know now is that Obama’s appointment of Holder provides the first of the post-nomination Obama- Clinton baggage stories.

Dream ticket, anyone?

Thanks to AC who was first to alert me to this story and to others of you who also sent “heads-up.”


Archer05 said...

Original Post at McClatchy Watch

Remember Howard Dean’s statement about the importance of military service for a presidential candidate?
“The real issue is this,” Dean said in March 2004, when endorsing Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.,

“Who would you rather have in charge of the defense of the United States of America, a group of people who never served a day overseas in their life, or a guy who served his country honorably and has three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star on the battlefields of Vietnam?”

McCain, by the way, has been awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Star Medals, a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross.