Commentary Magazine


The Facts, Just The Facts, Ma’am

According to this report (registration required), the Republicans are gearing up for an extensive inquiry into Eric Holder:

In a three-page letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey last week, Republican committee members requested an expansive list of materials from Holder’s time as U.S. attorney and deputy attorney general. A similar letter was sent to the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum.

The Republicans are searching for Holder’s fingerprints on a variety of controversial policies and scandals in the 1990s, including President Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings; the Justice Department’s investigation into the siege in Waco, Texas; and the Miami raid involving Elián González. They’re also exploring Holder’s involvement in Justice Department investigations into Clinton-era fundraising and the administration’s decision to allow Loral Space to export a communications satellite to China to be launched on a Chinese-built rocket.

The letter also requests materials related to a memorandum Holder drafted dealing with attorney-client privilege waivers in corporate investigations, a hot-button issue that was revisited this year by Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip. And the letter asks for materials that would highlight Holder’s positions on gun control, the death penalty, and Miranda warnings—issues certain to rally the conservative base.

But the letter is largely devoted to the issue of presidential pardons, which has trailed Holder since his name began circulating as Obama’s frontrunner for attorney general. The Republicans, as expected, are plumbing Holder’s involvement in the pardons of fugitive commodities traders Marc Rich and Pincus Green and 16 members of the Puerto Rican separatist group FALN, among others.

Appropriately, no one is yet declaring opposition to Holder. Rather they are preparing to look carefully at whether, quite aside form any ideological issue, he carried out his duties ethically and free of political bias or favoritism. That’s the standard Democrats repeatedly told us Alberto Gonzales failed to meet, right? This indicates that everyone is in a wait-and- see mode (or learn and see):

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of American Center for Law & Justice, says his group is still researching Holder’s background. Sekulow says ACLJ is particularly interested in Holder’s involvement in the Elián González matter, which still evokes strong feelings from the millions of Americans who followed the story. While opposition to Holder’s nomination has not hardened among conservative legal groups, Sekulow says he expects more organization as the confirmation date nears. “It is starting to crystallize now,” he says.

The purpose of the hearing, unlike most hearings these days, is to actually get out the facts so that an informed decision can be made. Democrats should be, but apparently aren’t, interested in determining whether Holder meets the standards they themselves set for the attorney general.