By Dave Kopel
While the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was spending a year and a half supplying weapons to Mexican drug cartels, did he really have no idea what was going on?
Although documentary evidence strongly indicates that Holder’s Department of Justice has engaged in a cover-up of “Fast and Furious” in order to protect Holder/Obama appointees, is Holder actually innocent?
Any time you have to judge a person’s veracity, it is important to take into account that person’s prior record of honesty or dishonesty. That a person has often lied in the past does not necessarily mean he is lying today. But considering Eric Holder’s established record of dishonesty and dissimulation, there is absolutely no reason to take him at his word on “Fast and Furious” today.
A “Forgetful” Nature
Holder has recently claimed that racism is one reason he is being criticized for “Operation Fast and Furious.” While there is no evidence to support his claim, there is plentiful evidence that Holder himself perverts law enforcement for racist and other purposes.
Prior to serving as attorney general for President Barack Obama, Holder served as deputy attorney general for President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno. In that capacity, he helped lead what the White House called its “all-out offensive on guns” in 2000.
He had other duties as well, among them responsibility for making recommendations for presidential pardons. Among the most notorious was for the fugitive plutocrat Marc Rich.
Beginning in the 1980s, the U.S. Department of Justice began 15 years of attempting to dismantle Marc Rich’s criminal empire. Among Rich’s crimes was illegally violating the U.S. embargo against Iran, funneling money to the Iranian tyrants while they were holding Americans hostage.
In 1983, Rich was indicted for violating the Iran embargo and for $48 million in tax evasion. At the time it was the biggest federal tax fraud indictment ever. He was in Switzerland at the time, and refused to return to the United States to face charges. He promptly earned a spot on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.
In 1995, Holder was the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, in charge of all federal civil and criminal cases being brought in the District. Holder sued a company, Clarendon Ltd., whose previous name had been “Marc Rich & Company International.” Being controlled by a fugitive, the company was ineligible for government contracts, but Rich’s involvement was concealed so that Clarendon could win federal contracts to provide metal to the U.S. Mint.
After being sued by Holder’s office, Clarendon agreed in April 1995 to pay the government $1.2 million. The company admitted that it should have disclosed “Rich’s substantial indirect ownership.”
Holder’s office immediately sent out press releases bragging about Holder’s big victory against Marc Rich. As reported in The Wall Street Journal on April 13, 1995, “U.S. Attorney Eric Holder said the agreement ends an investigation into the company’s contracts to supply $45 million in coinage metal to the U.S. Mint.”
In the meantime, while Marc Rich was living in Europe as a fugitive from justice, his ex-wife, Denise Rich, was donating lavishly to the Clinton presidential library, the Hillary Clinton Senate campaign and to other Democrats.
Denise Rich made the brilliant move of hiring Jack Quinn to lobby for Marc Rich. Quinn, formerly Clinton’s White House counsel, happened to be very close to Vice President Al Gore. It was also common knowledge that Holder wanted to be attorney general if Gore won the 2000 election.
So in 1999, Quinn approached Holder on behalf of Rich. Two years later, when Congress made Holder testify under oath about the Rich pardon, Holder said that when Quinn asked Holder to help Rich, “Mr. Rich’s name was unfamiliar to me.”
Of course, those words are very hard to believe in light of Holder’s efforts a few years before in touting himself for his lawsuit that exposed Rich’s secret control of Clarendon.
Supposedly not knowing anything about Marc Rich, Deputy Attorney General Holder contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York City and attempted to get them to settle their criminal case against Rich for a deal that would involve no prison time. The New York office refused.
The next approach was to try to get a presidential pardon for Rich. Normally, a pardon for Rich would have been impossible. The U.S. Department of Justice has a long-established rule that it will not consider pardon requests for fugitives.
Normally, when a convict requests a pardon, the Department of Justice headquarters in D.C. solicits input from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that handled the prosecution. In the Rich criminal case, that was the Office for the Southern District of New York. The New York office was fiercely opposed to a pardon for Rich, and could have provided the D.C. headquarters with a thorough explanation of the scope and magnitude of Rich’s misdeeds.
Telling Quinn that the New York prosecutors would “howl” if they found out that Rich was seeking a pardon, Holder told Quinn to submit the pardon request directly to the White House, thereby keeping the New York prosecutors unaware. As a House committee later found, Holder was a “willing participant in the plan to keep the Justice Department from knowing about and opposing” the pardon.
Holder’s written memo to President Clinton about the Rich pardon was based almost entirely on information provided by Rich’s own lawyer.
President Clinton waited until his last day in office to announce all his pardons. The Rich pardon immediately became a public controversy, and so in February 2011 the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee conducted an investigative hearing. The House Government Operations Committee also called Holder to testify under oath.
As with Holder’s 2010-2011 testimony on “Fast and Furious,” the core of his defense was that he had little, if any, idea what was going on.
He told Congress that at the time when he pushed the pardon, and circumvented the New York prosecutors, he had “gained only a passing familiarity with the underlying facts of the Rich case.”
The U.S. House Government Operations Committee presumed that Holder was telling the truth under oath. Thus, the committee reported that the “sum total” of Holder’s “knowledge about Rich came from a page of talking points provided to him by Jack Quinn in 2000.” The committee declared Holder’s conduct “unconscionable.”
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