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Republicans target reported Obama AG nominee for 2001 Rich pardon

[JURIST] Media reports that Clinton-era Deputy US Attorney General Eric Holder [professional profile; JURIST report] has been selected for nomination to the position of US Attorney General by President-elect Barack Obama prompted the the Republican National Committee (RNC) [party website] to circulate an e-mail [text] Wednesday criticizing Holder for his role in the 2001 pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich [Time backgrounder]. The email, which draws on numerous press reports, asked readers "Why does Obama want to appoint an attorney general with a long history of controversial pardons?" In 2002, the Republican-led House Government Reform Committee [official website] concluded that Holder worked with former White House counsel Jack Quinn to ensure that Department of Justice officials, especially federal prosecutors in New York who handled the Rich case, "did not have the opportunity to express an opinion on the Rich pardon before it was granted." Congressman Dan Burton, the Chairman of the Committee at the time it investigated the Rich pardon, has said that Holder met with Quinn on several occasions in which Quinn made the White House’s intentions about the pardon known. The Committee’s evidence included an e-mail in which Holder told Quinn to "go straight" to the White House and that the "timing is good" for Rich's request for a pardon. Normally, pardon requests are reviewed by career prosecutors at the DOJ Office of the Pardon Attorney [official website] before a recommendation is forwarded to the White House.

Marc Rich fled to Switzerland just before he was indicted in New York in 1983 on charges of tax evasion, fraud, and participation in illegal oil deals with Iran. His ex-wife, Denise Rich [Mother Jones report], visited the White House on more than a dozen occasions during Clinton's presidency and contributed an estimated $450,000 to his library foundation, $1.1 million to the Democratic Party, and at least $109,000 to Hillary Rodham Clinton's first bid for the Senate. Rich was officially pardoned [JURIST materials] by President Bill Clinton in 2001 on Clinton’s last day in office.

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