Yesterday, Jim Johnson stepped down from Barack Obama's VP selection committee. It turned out that he had received potentially improper loans from Countrywide Financial, which Obama had attacked. But it turns out that Johnson isn't the only sketchy person on the VP selection committee.
I would like to introduce you to Eric Holder, Bill Clinton's former Deputy Attorney General. Holder was involved in the pardon of Marc Rich, the Democratic donor who had fled the country. In March of 2003, the NYT wrote about the case. They make it clear that Holder is awash in cronyism, skirts ethics laws, had horrible judgement, and is simply incompetent. He also advocated for clemency for terrorists. And this is Obama's primary advisor on his first decision as the Democratic nominee. Read on for details.
From the NYT:
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.
Holder met a representative of Rich's at an event, where Holder recommended his friend Jack Quinn for the job:
Mr. Holder recommended hiring ''a lawyer who knows the process, he comes to me, and we work it out.'' [...] Pressed for a name, the report says, Mr. Holder pointed to Mr. Quinn nearby, saying: ''There's Jack Quinn. He's a perfect example.''
Why Quinn? Well, the favor factory was in play:
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.
There was one little catch. It was illegal for Quinn to lobby, meaning that as Deputy Attorney General, he recommended someone for a job that they could not legally do to curry favor with that person:
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.
Dick Morris reminds us that Rich was quite well connceted:
Rich's ex-wife, Denise Rich, was a generous benefactor of the Clintons, providing campaign funds to both Bill and Hillary, contributing at least $400,000 to the Clinton Library, and buying thousands of dollars worth of furniture for the Clintons. So it was not hard for Rich to get Clinton's attention.
So Quinn and Rich start shopping the idea around. First they don't go through Holder, instead goind directly to the White House. In a meeting on the subject, Clinton rejects for the good reason that Rich sold weapons to our enemies:
Several days before the pardon was granted, Clinton met with Nolan and two other top aides who all urged him not to grant the pardon.
Nolan was particularly concerned about allegations that Rich was involved in arms trading after he left the U.S.
So Quinn heads back to Holder and tries again. What does Holder do? He falls asleep at the wheel when presented with a pardon request for a known felon who fled the country and who was believed to be an international arms dealer. How did that happen? Obama's Vetter didn't Vet because:
When Holder received the Rich materials, he did no independent research to determine their veracity and appears to have barely reviewed them. [...]
But he never took the time to check anything and simply told the White House that he was "neutral to positive" on the pardons.
He must really have wanted Quinn's help with his next job.
So this is the change Obama brings. Warmed-over shady operators from the Clinton administration. These guys do favors for each other for jobs. They give favored access to donors. They skirt around ethics rules. And they don't do their jobs.
This isn't a hypothetical. This is the change that Obama is bringing to Washington right now. This is the guy that Obama is putting in charge of his first major decision, after his previous choice was found to be ethically flawed.