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Holding Back?

8:04 AM, Jan 13, 2009 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Paul Mirengoff raises some interesting questions on Eric Holder's nomination to be Attorney General. At issue: Why has Holder been, as Mirengoff puts it, "less than forthcoming" about his work for Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2004?

Several weeks ago, reporters discovered that Holder failed to disclose that he'd been hired by Blagojevich to investigate the Illinois State Gaming Board. His defenders suggested that while his firm had indeed been retained and while Blagojevich had announced the hiring at a press conference, Holder had not actually done any substantive work for the governor. The story quickly disappeared..

But Mirengoff reports that Holder sent a letter to the Chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board making some very specific requests. That letter, released in response to a FOIA request, certainly suggests that Holder -- or someone acting on his behalf, writing under his name -- did in fact perform some substantive work as a result of his hiring by Blagojevich.

Holder, as my mother might say, is in a pickle. Having once failed to disclose his work for Blagojevich, he now seems to be misrepresenting it.

(One possible out: Holder could say that someone else drafted the letter under his name and he was unaware of it. But for an incoming Attorney General who is supposed to be brining competence back to the Justice Department, that's not reassuring.)

Several Republicans have expressed concerns about Holder's role in Clinton Administration pardons and Arlen Specter, ranking Republican on the Judiciary, teed off on Holder in a speech last week on the Senate floor. I spoke to several Republicans on Capitol Hill yesterday and they all agreed that Holder was in for some tough questioning. And one senior GOP aide told me that Holder would face "real problems" with his confirmation.