January 15th, 2009
11:30 AM ET
14 years ago

Holder: I 'made mistakes' in Marc Rich pardon incident

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/15/art.holder2.gi.jpg caption=" Holder is testifying on Capitol Hill."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - During his confirmation hearing Thursday, Attorney General designate Eric Holder conceded that he "made mistakes" during the Marc Rich pardon incident that were "not typical" of his conduct over the bulk of his career.

Holder said he "made assumptions that turned out not to be true" during the Rich pardon process, which turned out to be the "most intense" and "searing" experience he "ever had as a lawyer."

Watch: 'I've made mistakes,' Holder says

Holder said that he learned from the Rich pardon incident and will "be a better attorney general" as a result.
One of the lessons of the Rich case, Holder said, was the need for "full consultation with all lawyers in the pardon process." Holder said there was a need to improve the pardon process, which seems to experience a "deterioration... at the end of every administration."

Holder, in response to a question from Sen. Arlen Specter, said he did not recommend that former Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn, who served as Rich's lawyer during the pardon process, circumvent the Justice Department and go "straight to the White House" with the pardon application.

Holder admitted he made a mistake by being inadequately informed about Rich's criminal background.

Filed under: Eric Holder
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Once You Vote Black

    What ever happend to Operation Chaos? I'm just saying. By the way. Don't blame Holder for not catching Loddy Doddy( bin Ladin) because he was only the #2 guy at the time. That is a Clinton miss.

    January 15, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Hammer

    He was just paying off an old debt.

    January 15, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |

    Let he that have no sin....oh no, makes no mistakes, cast the first stone! It's honorable and courageous to admit that you made a mistake and learn from it. Confirm Holder and let's move on! Darn it, you confirmed Alberto Gonzalez, didn't you, senators? Print my comments, CNN.

    January 15, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. Eugene

    Honesty and disclosure is so much better than what we have endured for eight years.

    January 15, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Tim

    But not in the FALN issue?

    January 15, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. Paul DObro

    Wait, wait, wait here. We have someone in the government that ADMITS a mistake and states what he learned from it??????

    Wow, way different then the land of Denial inwhich Bush, Chaney, and Palin reside.

    Not sure I can handle this, getting dizzy.....

    January 15, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. Outraged Democrat

    When will you people who hate Bush "get over it'. We have more scandals with our new president elect than through all the Bush years.

    January 15, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. Tim

    "Hmmm. Comparing an ill-advised pardon to Bush going into a war. Yeah. Apples to apples. How many people died and how many trillions of dollars were caused by the Rich pardon?" Tim, your a disgrace to our name.

    How many people has Bush saved is the correct answer. People died in the current Iraq war, many more would have died had we not gone in. I don't see too many embolden terrorists outside the middle east these days.

    January 15, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. John

    Don't worry ... Obama will never make ANY mistakes.

    January 15, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. John

    BTW ... stop SHOUTING people. Didn't you learn any manners at your public skrewel?

    January 15, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. vic

    I thought a president could pardon anyone?
    Anyway, I bet Bush will pardon his entire administration, including himself of any future criminal charges. 😉

    January 15, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. carment

    Holder: "I made a mistake"
    Gonzalez: "Mistakes were made"

    And therein lies the difference

    January 15, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  13. Peter

    The fact this man will actually admit his mistakes is amazing...I mean really, Dick Cheney said there were "No mistakes" in the Bush years...

    January 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. Amy from MN

    Omigosh!!! A public official who has the guts to admit that he made a mistake? I'd say that's pretty admirable considering Bush will only do that now that he has less than a week left in office.

    January 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  15. Melissa

    It's amazing to me that everyone has all the answers when someone of privilege actually gets special treatment. I mean I would EXPECT special treatment to the nth degree if I had the money, the means and or knew people of the same background. You people that so boldly seem outraged about these kind of dealings in the world would gladly change places with anyone of privilege/money if you could. And you would scream aloud if anyone were to deny you the special treatment. 99% of us are envious of those that have more anything than we do. So bring it down a notch will ya'! You'd do the same things that 'they' do if you only could.

    January 15, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  16. Tiff of Lithia Springs

    GEE!! Apparently you have to be perfect to be appoint an office in this country.

    January 15, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. AnnMM


    On 9/11/2001 who was President? And how many American lives were lost that day because the POTUS ignored virulent warning after warning from the Pentagon?

    ... and the greatest thing that ever happened to Osama Bin Laden was Dubya, in matters of recruitment and increasing his popularity in the middle east. Why oh why would Bin Laden want to interefere with his greatest ally?

    January 15, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. Rave

    Who cares... just do your job right and try not to make any more mistakes.

    January 15, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  19. Lynn, FL

    For all those saying the Bush administration hasn't admitted any mistakes, where were you in the past couple of days when the headlines said he did admit making mistakes in a recent interview? Grow up people. Everyone makes mistakes. Seems a lot of Obama's appointees have made some pretty big ones. Obama is a politician, a real smooth one, just like Bill Clinton was. Obama isn't going to change a thing in how politics as usual are done in Washington DC. He may have thought he could, but reality is already sinking in. Notice how the headlines keep saying they want to do this or that, but they won't be able to do it as soon as they hoped. It is all about reducing the expectations now that he got the job. It is good to see how many Democrats seem to be getting upset about Obama's picks too, so it isn't just partisan. Maybe the change Obama wants to bring DC is to appoint people with the most questionable backgrounds.

    January 15, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  20. Billy

    Ah, how refreshing – someone that made mistakes admitting and owning up to them.

    Maybe some of this honesty and humility will rub off on Bush/Cheney....ah, on second thought...

    January 15, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. Veridico

    CR – Believe it, Obama is neither smart nor honest as his fanatic supporters want to believe even though they know it's not true.
    Baze – Does it mean that "change we can believe in" as preached by the Messiah can no longer be believed?
    Will CNN print this?

    January 15, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  22. rodlang

    I made mistakes....now make me AG so that I can make some more mistakes. Just like the Treasury guy that didn't pay his taxes....just "mistakes".

    January 15, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. Sheep get out and explain for the flock

    You Obama sheep are a riot and I look forward to hammering you and Obambi for every single mistake he or one of his unqualified minions makes in the next four years.

    You make excuses for every mistake already and guess what geniuses, in five days you on't be able to blame Bush, Obambi will be on his uh, uh, uh own.

    This guy let terrorists out as they didn't kill anyone and Matc Rich SOLD weapons to our enemies.

    Good job Holder, you fit right in with this progressive stupidity.

    Four years of excuses, at least when Bush bleeped up, we ALL hammered him, you people are nothing but mindless uh, uh, uh sheep.

    January 15, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  24. Steve (the real one)

    Sorry but you are only 33% correct! The nominees for Commerce and treasury were vetted by the Obama team. They should have known about these issues! You are however, correct about the Blagojevich issue!

    January 15, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  25. Virginia

    John in AZ-as a matter of fact, I did take my meds this a.m. and I feel great! I still believe that this sort of person, like most of the others the Obama has nominated, should not be confirmed because they make the types of mistakes that are illegal and they know it from the beginning.

    And going to war didn't put our economy in the toilet. The Dems in this last elected Congress did that by ignoring that Fannie and Freddie were going down the drain, and that started the ball rolling. Now it is going further down the drain with all these bailouts and so called stimulus packages that will do nothing but put us more and more trillions of dollars in the hole.

    I will see how well the honeymoon and the first 100 days go before I decide if I am anymore satisfied that I was on the night of Nov 4. God help us all!

    January 15, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
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