ABC’s Ariane de Vogue reports: Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, released several letters of support today from parties supporting the nomination of Attorney General Nominee Eric Holder. But one of the letters might backfire and serve as ammunition for those opposed to Holder’s confirmation.
Former Attorney General James Comey writes in support of Holder but does not mince words when it comes to Holder’s participation in the controversial pardon of financial fugitive Marc Rich. Comey says that Holder, who was then serving as Deputy Attorney General, made a "huge misjudgment" in his role in the pardon and that Holder has "learned a hard lesson."
Comey says in the letter that he has "unique perspective" into the matter because he served as the prosecutor in charge of the Marc Rich case from 1987-1993 and then after the pardons he, as US Attorney, supervised a criminal investigation into the pardons.
The Southern District of New York’s investigation into the pardons received little attention. Comey’s letter could well ignite some harsh questions from Republicans on the committee about that chapter in Holder’s career.
Comey says that he had been "stunned" when Clinton pardoned Rich. Comey’s investigation into the matter, however, never lead to any prosecutions.
"I know a lot of people who have made significant mistakes," writes Comey. But he adds that Holder’s mistake for his role in the pardon might make Holder an even "better steward" of DOJ because he has "learned a hard lesson about protecting the integrity" of DOJ from "political fixes."
In a statement released today describing Comey’s letter, Leahy left out any criticism of Holder and instead focuses on Comey’s endorsement:
"The prosecutor in charge of the Marc Rich case and the criminal investigation into the Marc Rich pardon, described Holder as ‘a smart, decent, humble man, who knows and loves the Department and has demonstrated his commitment to the rule of law across an entire career.’”
Mary Jo White, who held Comey’s job as US Attorney in New York when the pardons were announced, and was reportedly furious at the time, is refusing any comment on Holder’s nomination.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary committee have succeeded in having Holder’s hearing delayed a week, so they cam go through voluminous documents to prepare for the hearing.