The man expected to be nominated as the next attorney general still lives under a cloud created late in the Clinton administration.
Eric Holder, at the time a deputy attorney general, was central to the controversial granting of a last-minute pardon to fugitive financier Marc Rich.
Journalist George Lardner Jr., who has written extensively on the Rich pardon, says the issue deserves more scrutiny.
Lardner says he doesn't think the pardon "would have been issued if he (Holder) had done his job."
Holder's office said he did not wish to comment.