Pardongate Is The Least of Eric Holder’s Sins
(Yes, Eric Holder is mentioned in the book!)
© Jack Cashill
“I was wondering when you were going to call me,” so said the irrepressible Nolanda Butler Hill when I phoned last week.
She knew precisely what item of news had prompted me to call: the revelation that Barack Obama had selected Clinton Deputy Attorney General and Ron Brown protege, Eric Holder, to help vet his vice presidential candidates.
As the confidante and business partner of the late Clinton Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, Hill knows from personal experience that Holder’s sins go well beyond his seamy role in the Marc Rich pardon scandal.
In the way of background, in May 1995, Clinton’s unpredictable Attorney General Janet Reno called for an independent counsel to assess whether Ron Brown had “accepted things of value” from Hill in exchange for his influence.
Reno’s pursuit of Brown did not shock either of them. He had been the subject of an inquiry for months. Targeting Hill, however, had no precedent, and it unnerved them both.
By statute, the independent counsel law applied only to political and government figures. “It was unlawful,” says Hill of her own targeting, “I was the only such person in history.”
In time, the independent counsel also targeted Brown’s son, Michael, for laundering money to his father through a scam minority set aside deal with a sleazy pair of Asian-American fundraisers. In Hill’s words, Michael “was as guilty as a goose.”
Hill and Brown both understood that she was being targeted in the hopes that she would roll over on Brown. Her condition for not doing so was that Brown share with her his every point of vulnerability.
Nowhere was Brown more vulnerable than in his unwelcome role as chief bagman for the Clintons’ relentless and often illicit fundraising in the run-up to the 1996 election.
Hill learned virtually every unseemly detail--from Brown’s go-between work with the Chicoms and their American vendors to his wholesale distribution of walking around money to Democratic race hustlers. As Brown understood, Hill knew way too much.
Even before his own mysterious death, Brown worried openly about her life and safety. He went so far as to call Hill’s sister, with whom she stayed from time to time, and insist Hill not be allowed to go out jogging alone.
As soon as Brown died, the independent counsel ceased the investigation into his illicit activities. As to Michael, he pled guilty to a single misdemeanor, accepted a small fine, and was out playing golf with the president a month later.
Not surprisingly, however, the Justice Department kept the pressure on the outspoken Hill, still deeply troubled by the circumstances surrounding Brown’s death.
Hill took heart when, in July 1997, President Clinton appointed Holder to replace Jamie Gorelick as Deputy Attorney General. Although ostensibly second in command, the Deputy AG was the real power in Justice, the Clinton equivalent of a Soviet “political officer.”
Hill knew Holder through Brown, who had been instrumental in getting him his previous job as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
She and her attorney wasted no time in contacting Holder at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting, which was held that year in San Francisco in early August.
Holder, however, did not get to be Deputy AG by being naïve. “The train is already going down the tracks,” he explained to Hill. “It will take your cooperation to stop it.”
The “train” in question was a D.C. grand jury, which was being led to indict Hill. The “cooperation” meant Hill keeping her mouth shut.
Hill clarifies, “He [Holder] told me and my attorney that if I told what I knew about election fundraising I would be indicted.”
Holder was as good as his word. On March 13, 1998, ten days before Hill was to testify in a suit brought by Judicial Watch on the subject of Brown’s fundraising, the Clinton Justice Department indicted Hill on trumped up charges of fraud and tax evasion.
The willfully blind lead of the New York Times called the indictment “a vivid example of how an investigation can outlive its target.”
Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch knew better. In a motion to the court, he would write, “The timing of these events is neither accidental nor coincidental. Ms. Hill’s indictment was likely an effort to retaliate against her and deter her from giving any further damaging testimony at the March 23, 1998 hearing.”
At White House bidding, Holder had Hill indicted to shut her up, and he succeeded. Anxious, alone, and broke, facing as many as seventy years in prison if convicted, Hill chose to negotiate a deal.
On June 15, 1999, a day before her fifty-fifth birthday, she reported to a halfway house in Seagoville, Texas, her silence at least temporarily assured.
As James Sanders, my partner on the TWA 800 investigation, can attest, silencing whistleblowers through bogus prosecution was the modus operandi in the Holder era. Sanders and his wife Elizabeth were indicted and convicted on federal conspiracy charges on Holder’s watch,
Although generally appalled by the Clintons, Hill understands how betrayed they must feel when their very proteges desert them for Obama.
Holder did so early on. “Given Holder’s credentials,” the Chicago Tribune reported breathlessly in August 2007, “it isn’t outside the realm of possibility to suggest he could wind up the nation’s first African-American attorney general should Obama win the White House.”
Hill thinks she knows why Holder jumped ship. He was a key player in a racially exclusive cabal of DC insiders. “He’s so racist it’s not even funny,” she says of Holder, “not only racist but elitist.”
Still, no matter how compromised Holder might be, Obama can ill afford to dismiss him from his vice-presidential selection committee.
Obama has already had to dismiss one of the three selectors. If he dismisses a second, it will become absurdly obvious that the real problem is not Holder or Jim Johnson of Countrywide fame, but Mr. Obama himself.
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