Holder's Nom Raises Ghost of Rich Pardon
AG pick played key—if inadvertent—role in clearing fugitive
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2008 10:44 AM CST
In this July 20, 1999 file photo, President Clinton shakes hand with Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, right, as Attorney General Janet Reno looks on.   (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds, File)
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(Newser) – Eric Holder has earned a lot of praise in his career, but there’s one glaring blemish on his resume: the pardon of Marc Rich. Critics say Barack Obama’s attorney general pick was the driving force behind the fugitive’s backdoor pardon, while supporters say he’s an innocent scapegoat. In reality, he was a pawn who made a major misstep, reports the New York Times.

Holder was friendly with Rich’s lawyer, Jack Quinn, and even unwittingly recommended Quinn to Rich’s PR man. When Quinn later discussed the case with Holder and asked him to offer the administration his opinion, Holder obliged, assuming, he says, that it was also going through official channels. It wasn’t. “There’s no question Quinn played him,” says Holder’s lawyer. Holder’s good word was taken as official Justice Department approval, though no official review had occurred.