Holder and the Rich Pardon
Richard Cohen and Ezra Klein are very disturbed by Attorney General-designate Eric Holder’s role in Bill Clinton’s 11th hour pardoning of Marc Rich. Kevin Drum finds Holder’s role “disturbing” but not disqualifying and hopes he’s learned his lesson.
I’m by no means a Clinton fan but the idea that Holder should be held accountable for Clinton’s corrupt use of his plenary power to pardon whoever the hell he feels like strikes me as more than a little odd. Even if Holder had opposed the pardon, Clinton could have done it, anyway.
Cohen, Klein, and Drum all think the Justice Department should be independent of the president. Barack Obama said as much in introducing Holder yesterday. But the fact of the matter is that the Attorney General and senior DOJ staff are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president. Their only higher duty is to the Constitution and the law. Holder telling Clinton, who had every legal right to pardon Rich, that he was “Neutral, leaning towards favorable” on the pardon from a legal standpoint doesn’t cross any obvious lines.
If you think– as I do — the Rich pardon was morally suspect, cast your blame at Holder’s former boss.
Corrected intro to more accurately portray Drum’s position.