"I'm done. Public life's over for me. I had a moment in time. That moment has passed," then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder told a reporter from the Washington Post back in early 2001. Holder said he wanted to "crawl into bed and pull the covers up over my head."
Holder was distraught after being grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Government Reform Committee over his involvement in the controversial presidential pardon of Marc Rich, who was a billionaire fugitive indicted for evading more than $48 million in taxes and suspected of having a hand in illegal dealings with Iran, as well as other crimes. Rich was in Switzerland at the time of the indictment and never returned to the United States. Yesterday, he suffered a stroke and was pronounced dead at the age of 78.
Just what was Holder's role in the pardon? According to testimony in 2001 by Jack Quinn, the lawyer and lobbyist who pleaded Marc Rich's case for a last-minute pardon to Bill Clinton, it was the reason it even happened.
"On the Monday following the pardon, Mr. Holder told me that he had said to the White House Counsel he was neutral leaning towards favorable on the pardon. I had a subsequent conversation with the White House Counsel and I said to her that Mr. Holder had told me that. Her response to me, while not confirming his advice in so many words was, 'If Mr. Holder hadn't participated in the process- or something to this effect- this pardon wouldn't have happened,' said Quinn.
Holder, who feared the ordeal ended his career, was nominated to Attorney General of the United States by President Barack Obama in 2009 and later confirmed by the Senate.
The New York Times wrote the following of the pardoned fugitive yesterday:
"One of the most serious allegations was that Mr. Rich had misrepresented the provenance of crude oil he sold in 1980 and 1981. Under complicated regulations then in place, newly found oil fetched a higher price than older oil. By illegally marking up the price of old oil and passing it through a bewildering chain of transactions, Mr. Rich sold oil at a markup of up to 400 percent. He was accused of making more than $100 million from the scheme, avoiding paying $48 million in United States taxes."
It continues, "Mr. Rich paid the government about $200 million in civil penalties but fled to Switzerland to escape criminal prosecution. The Internal Revenue Service offered a $500,000 reward for his capture, and the F.B.I. put him on its 'most wanted' list, along with Osama bin Laden. Even as he remained the world's biggest trader of metals and minerals and lived in opulence, he was called the world's most famous fugitive."
Many believed the pardon was issued as payback for Rich's former wife, Denise Rich, and her hefty donations to the Democratic Party and the Clinton library, on top of many other donations.
On Clinton's last day in office, Marc Rich was pardoned.
Here's a seven-minute Sean Hannity special from November of 2008 explaining everything in great detail.