Advisers warned Obama that naming Holder AG was a dangerous move

Attorney General Eric Holder
(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Washington insiders warned Newly-elected President Barack Obama in late 2008 that selecting scandal-tinted prosecutor Eric Holder as Attorney General could have consequences.

Many questioned Holder’s role, as assistant attorney general, in President Bill Clinton’s last-minute and controversial pardon of fugitive financier and big-time Democratic contributor Marc Rich.  Holder advised Rich’s attorney to do an end-around the normal procedure on Presidential pardons and instead present a last-minute appeal to Clinton just as the President was leaving office.

Some felt Holder lied to both the House Government Reform Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee about his role in the pardon.  The House Government Reform Committee’s report concluded Holder played an far more significant role than he admitted.

Holder also advised Clinton to reduce the criminal sentences of 16 members of the Boricua Popular Army, listed by the FBI as a terrorist organization.  He later advised Clinton to grant clemency to the 16 and the President did so a month later.

“Holder plays fast and loose with the law,” says a former Justice Department attorney who worked under the Attorney General.  “He puts political expediency above the law.”

Sources close to the Obama White House tell Capitol Hill Blue that top advisers warned the new President that choosing Holder was — at best — a risky move but Obama ignored the warnings and tapped the ethically-challenged attorney anyway.

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