Holder admitted under questioning by Specter that he was not fully aware of Rich's record, including allegations of arms dealing, before recommending a pardon to former President Bill Clinton.
But Holder denied an allegation made by House committee that had probed the incident that he recommended Jack Quinn, former White House counsel, be hired by the Rich family to represent the financier.
He also disputed some of Speceter's recitation of the fact surrounding the Rich pardon application, which was granted right before Clinton left office in January 2001, including whether he told Quinn to go directly to the White House to seek
"That is not correct," Holder said when asked whether he had recommended Quinn as Rich's lawyer.
"I never told Quinn to go to the White House with the pardon application," Quinn added.
It was a tense exchange, and Specter promised that he would revisit the issue when the committee begins its next round of questioning.