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Rep. Burton on Eric Holder Nomination

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," November 19, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome to "Hannity & Colmes". Getting right to our "Top Story" tonight. And it is the growing saga surrounding the possible nomination of Eric Holder as the next United States attorney general.

Multiple reports yesterday indicated that Holder is the president- elect's top choice to fill the position, but Holder's past as a member of the Clinton administration is already under scrutiny.

As deputy attorney general, Holder had oversight over the controversial last minute Clinton pardons including that of fugitive financier Marc Rich. Earlier today Pennsylvania senator, Arlen Specter, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Rich's pardon will be an issue during Holder's confirmation.

In February of 2001 the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee also held hearings into the pardons. Holder himself testified along with former Clinton chief of staff and Obama's new transition chief John Podesta.

The ranking Democrat on the committee, California congressman, Henry Waxman, called the Rich pardon an end run around the judicial process, and a committee report later concluded that Holder and Rich's attorney, Jack Quinn, who also had worked in the Clinton White House, had, quote, "cut the Justice Department out of the process."

Joining us tonight in a "Hannity & Colmes" exclusive, the man who chaired those 2001 hearings into the pardon scandal, Indiana Republican congressman Dan Burton.

Congressman, welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes".

DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA CONGRESSMAN: Nice seeing you, Alan.

Video: Watch Sean and Alan's interview with Congressman Dan Burton

COLMES: Thank you, sir. Should this automatically disqualify Eric Holder from being attorney general?

BURTON: Well, that's a decision the Senate's going to have to make, but what happened was that he was intimately involved in the pardon of Marc Rich, and he said before our committee he was not, and we have a number of things that happened during the committee that pretty much proves to me and other members, Democrats and Republicans alike, on the committee that Eric was involved with Quinn in getting those pardons.

COLMES: Well, was he under oath in your committee, and are you saying that he lied under oath?

BURTON: Everybody was under oath in my committee, yes.

COLMES: So did he lie under oath? Did he break the law?

BURTON: I would say he equivocated. You know we had a number of people who testified who said they couldn't recall, couldn't remember, and it's hard to prove perjury when you just say you can't remember.

COLMES: So what is your specific issue with him and why — can you be specific about what it is that you.

BURTON: Yes, sure.

COLMES: Go ahead.

BURTON: Well, during the year 2000, he led Quinn to the attorneys for Marc Rich and indicated they should hire him. In addition to that, during that year, he asked the U.S. attorneys in New York in the southern district to meet with these attorneys to try to arrange for Rich to be pardoned or to come back to the United States, and the U.S. attorneys refused to meet with them because they said he was a fugitive from justice, number two on the most wanted list for 17 years, and they wouldn't talk to him unless Rich came back into the country.

And Holder said he thought that was ridiculous, and they should have met with him. And then later on Holder got — I think in November, he had Quinn talk to him and said you know, I'd like for you to talk to the people at the White House, and I'd like to send a letter down there asking them to call you, and Holder said to him, according to Quinn, no, don't write a letter, just tell them to call me, and then subsequent to that he refused to take the petition for the pardon of Marc Rich, and he should have done that.

He was the man in charge at that point, and he should have distributed that to the people in the Justice Department that was involved intimately in the pardon process. And he didn't do that.

COLMES: I'm going to ask you, during confirmation hearings, is there anything Holder could say that would clarify the issue to your satisfaction?

BURTON: I don't really think so. You know he said that he didn't have anything to do with the pardons and indicated that if he had had more information, he would not have been — even lean toward the pardons being approved, but if you look at the record that happened, and I think I sent that to you and Sean, I think if you look at the record, you'd find very clearly that he was involved all the way through 2000.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Congressman, Sean Hannity here.

BURTON: Yes, Sean.

HANNITY: We all know the president has a right to pardon, but it's a matter of judgment and who's deserving.

BURTON: Right.

HANNITY: This is a guy that gave up his citizenship. This is a guy selling arms to Iran in the middle of the Iranian hostage crisis.

BURTON: Right.

HANNITY: This is a guy — you know, we're not talking about small sums of money here, what, $48 million, in this particular case. And you're saying that Eric Holder, you believe, was less that honest.

BURTON: I think he circumvented the truth. Yes, I think he was less than honest. He was involved with Quinn for the entire — almost the entire year of 2000, and when it came time for the pardon, he said he wasn't that intimately involved, but he refused to petition — for the pardon.

He didn't get that petition to the other people, the Justice Department, who are going to be making recommendations and he even talked to people at the White House about it before that. And then.

HANNITY: All right. But — I think there are actually worst things than this, not the least of which he supported the use of guns in the taking of Elian Gonzalez in that particular.

BURTON: Yes, I remember that.

HANNITY: He also supported, and as I understand it, was a major player in the — and had a major role in the pardoning of these FALN terrorists. Now we have a video that we've aired on this program before of the FALN terrorists on tape making bombs, and.

BURTON: Yes.

HANNITY: You know, so then it becomes a question of real judgment here and — but I'm just getting the sense from one appointment after the other here, the Obama campaign doesn't care because they know they've got the votes.

Do you think that's.

BURTON: I think they — I think they do have the votes, but I'm not sure all this information has come to light, and I'm sure that Arlen Specter and other people on the committee over there, including the chairman, will want to look into these things.

Eric Holder's a nice guy, but he was much less than honest when he appeared before our committee.

HANNITY: But is there any way that the Republicans could stop this?

BURTON: No, no, the — Democrats have, what, 57, 58 votes in the Senate, and they control the judiciary committee by a large number, so if they want to pass — to confirm him, they will.

HANNITY: All right. But they also have — for example, we now know that Greg Craig who has worked for Bill Clinton in the impeachment case.

BURTON: Yes.

HANNITY: By the way, you know him very well. Have you noticed, by the way, this is change you can depend on? This is now the Obama-Clinton administration in many ways.

BURTON: Well, it appears — it appears as though President Obama is looking very hard at some of the people that worked in the Clinton administration.

HANNITY: All right.

BURTON: And Eric Holder's one of them.

HANNITY: So he quarterbacked the Clinton impeachment case. He also defended John Hinckley, the guy that shot Ronald Reagan and others in an attempted assassination case. He, too, was the lawyer working on Castro's behalf in the Elian Gonzalez case, in as much as taking that position there, and he also, you know, was very forceful in defending the Sandinistas, you know, the — communists or rebels against the Contra Freedom fighters.

BURTON: Yes, I — there's a lot there, but the thing that I focused on was the pardoning of Marc Rich because he was such a wanted man for 17 years, and he should never have been pardoned.

HANNITY: All right. We have a lot more to come on this, by the way. Stay — thank you, Congressman, for being with us. We appreciate it.

BURTON: Thank you, Sean, Alan.

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