WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. Attorney General-designate Eric Holder's role in a presidential pardon granted to a fugitive is greater than he has admitted, The New York Times reported.
Holder and his supporters say he was a fall guy and didn't know all the facts when, as deputy attorney general in 2001, he approved the legality of a pardon granted by outgoing U.S. President Bill Clinton to fugitive billionaire Marc Rich, who had fled the country rather than face tax-evasion charges. An investigation by the Times, however, indicates Holder was more closely involved in the case than he acknowledged, the newspaper said Wednesday.
It said Holder had more than a half-dozen contacts with Rich's lawyers over a 15-month period, including phone calls and memorandums that helped keep Rich's prospects for a presidential pardon alive.
U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Times that Holder's role in the Rich pardon would be "a big question" at his Senate confirmation hearing.
A federal grand jury investigating the Rich pardon after Clinton left office was eventually closed with a finding that no criminal wrongdoing had occurred, the newspaper said.