November 21, 2008
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Welcome to the Third Clinton Administration
The news out of the fledgling Obama administration went from bad to worse. Last week I told you about Valerie Jarrett, the corrupt Chicago politician serving as co-chair of President-elect Obama's transition team. (This is in addition to Clinton co-conspirator John Podesta as the other transition team co-chair and Clinton attack dog Rahm Emanuel as Obama's Chief of Staff.)
Now we can add two other Clinton insiders to the list: Clinton impeachment lawyer Greg Craig and former Janet Reno deputy Eric Holder, reportedly tapped as Obama's White House Counsel and Attorney General respectively. These are bizarre selections indeed for the man who promised to "bring change" to Washington. Instead, it is like the Clinton Administration, Act III.
Someone asked me the other day, "What will Monica Lewinsky's job be?" Maybe we should ask Greg Craig.
As I mentioned, Craig served as Clinton's impeachment lawyer. He defended the very worst of the Clinton scandals, most notably the former president's affair with Monica Lewinsky, in which Clinton was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice by the House. Earlier this week I said to the press, given Craig's defense of Bill Clinton's lies and obstruction, what sort of legal advice will Mr. Craig give to President Obama? Will it all depend on what the meaning of "is" is?
The leftist Craig also defended the violent government raid that delivered Elian Gonzalez to Castro's Cuba. In fact, we believe that Craig was working with communist Cuban government during the Elian affair. It was widely reported Craig helped kill a deal that would have transferred custody of Elian to his father as long as the father could freely choose where they were to live.
Craig defended Ted Kennedy during the trial of Kennedy's nephew William Kennedy Smith in the infamous Palm Beach rape case. He also defended Ronald Reagan's would-be assassin John Hinckley, Jr. (Craig helped piece together Hinckley's insanity defense.) He's also represented a war criminal or two. That's quite a record.
Unbelievably, the Bush State Department hired Craig to defend it against Judicial Watch litigation on behalf of a Clinton era State Department official who blew the whistle on UN corruption. (The litigation ended in settlement.)
Now Craig will be asked to run interference for the Obama administration.
Eric Holder, Obama's choice for Attorney General, was also involved in the Elian Gonzalez raid. As deputy attorney general under the craven Janet Reno, Holder participated in planning the raid that not only traumatized Elian, then six years old, but also led to the violent abuse of peaceful protesters outside of the home of Elian's Miami relatives. The protesters, many of them older women, were simply praying the Rosary when they were gassed and beaten by heavily armed government agents. (You may recall Judicial Watch sued Reno and Holder on behalf of the raid victims.)
Remember all of those last-minute, controversial pardons issued by President Clinton in the waning days of his administration? Guess who was in charge of approving the list, which included convicted felons who had paid large sums of cash to the Clintons? That's right. You guessed it: Eric Holder. He was the acting attorney general at the time. That list, by the way, included two Weather Underground terrorists and the infamous fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose ex-wife made substantial contributions to the Clintons. Holder not only personally helped Rich get the pardon, but he upended the rule of law by undermining Justice Department procedures put in place to protect the pardon process from abuse.
His record is dismal and includes support for commutations for members of FALN, a Puerto Rican terrorist organization, and he derailed investigations of the Clinton fundraising scandals while at Justice.
Holder admitted he should have handled the Rich pardon differently. As I told Politico, Holder "admits he's on the wrong side of an issue that ruptured Washington at the last day of the Clinton administration, and he gets a promotion?"
Now Holder will be asked to serve as the highest law enforcement officer in the land. It's frightening.
Pardons for terrorists may not bother Obama, given his close relationship with Bill Ayers and company, but principled Senators ought to reject Holder's nomination and give strict scrutiny to others.
Obama Violates His Own Pledge - Taps Daschle for HHS
Here's one campaign pledge President-Elect Obama plans to toss out the window right away. Check this out from The New York Times:
President-elect Barack Obama's selection of former Senator Tom Daschle for secretary of health and human services [sic] posed new questions on Wednesday about how broadly the new administration would apply Mr. Obama's campaign promises to limit potential conflicts of interest among his appointees.
At issue is Mr. Daschle's work since leaving the Senate four years ago as a board member of the Mayo Clinic and a highly paid adviser to health care clients at the law and lobbying firm Alston & Bird.
In a detailed list of campaign promises, Mr. Obama pledged that "no political appointees in an Obama administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years."
The New York Times notes that the Obama administration would likely ask Daschle to recuse himself from "any matter" involving the Mayo Clinic or any of the clients serviced by Alston & Bird, which "represents dozens of…concerns including pharmaceutical companies, health care providers, and trade groups for nurses and nursing homes."
Daschle's main responsibility, if confirmed, would be to push through Obama's planned healthcare system overhaul, which would most certainly have an impact on all of the industries served by Daschle. It is beyond reason to think that Daschle, as Secretary of HHS, would recuse himself from leading the charge for healthcare reform. If Obama sticks with Daschle, Obama must jettison a key campaign promise.
Of course, in addition to Daschle's personal conflicts of interest, there is also the matter of his wife, Linda Daschle, who has been a lobbyist for many years. As The Associated Press noted, "One area of [Tom Daschle's] review will include the lobbying connections of his wife, Linda Hall Daschle, who has worked mostly on behalf of airline-related companies over the years." (You may recall that following the terror attacks of 9/11 Judicial Watch investigated Tom and Linda Daschle for their role in selecting faulty bomb detecting equipment for the airline industry. We also raised ethics questions about Mrs. Daschle's lobbying of the Senate while her husband was in office.)
Can anyone seriously believe that Linda Daschle's lobbying firm won't benefit from her husband being the Cabinet member charged with effectively nationalizing nearly 20% of our economy?
I understand that most of his friends from Chicago are too corrupt to run his new government, but can't Obama find anyone not corrupted by the game here in Washington to help him?
Stevens Loses Re-Election Bid
At least one convicted felon won't be going back to Washington. It appears that Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens has lost his reelection bid to Democrat Mark Begich. According to The Associated Press:
Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in Senate history, narrowly lost his re-election bid Tuesday, marking the downfall of a Washington political power and Alaska icon who couldn't survive a conviction on federal corruption charges. His defeat by Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich moves Senate Democrats within two seats of a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.
Stevens' ouster on his 85th birthday marks an abrupt realignment in Alaska politics and will alter the power structure in the Senate, where he has served since the days of the Johnson administration while holding seats on some of the most influential committees in Congress.
The crotchety octogenarian built like a birch sapling likes to encourage comparisons with the Incredible Hulk, but he occupies an outsized place in Alaska history. His involvement in politics dates to the days before Alaska statehood, and he is esteemed for his ability to secure billions of dollars in federal aid for transportation and military projects. The Anchorage airport bears his name; in Alaska, it's simply "Uncle Ted."
Just days before the November 4th election, "Uncle Ted" was convicted by a federal grand jury of lying on his Senate financial disclosure regarding $250,000 he had received in improper gifts. He now faces a potential prison sentence of 35 years. However, he won't have to suffer the inglorious distinction of being thrown out of the Senate by his Republican colleagues. The voters took care of that. Republicans continue to pay the price for allowing Stevens-style corruption to fester.
While Stevens received the fate he deserved, other shady characters in Congress have not, including William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, Charles Rangel, John Conyers, and Nancy Pelosi, all of whom return to Capitol Hill despite being linked to serious scandals.
There's a disconnect between what voters say they want and their behavior on Election Day. According to a Judicial Watch-Zogby poll conducted on October 16-19, 2008, 91.9% of likely voters said that corruption is a serious problem in Washington. And yet two weeks later they voted to send corrupt politicians back to Washington to continue the cycle.
"Uncle Ted" appears to be the exception this year and hopefully his defeat represents the start of a trend.
Until next week...
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