- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2001

House investigators yesterday focused on newly obtained records to determine if Denise Rich, ex-wife of financier Marc Rich, met at the White House with President Clinton and top Democratic Party officials in the days before Mr. Rich's last-hour pardon.
The subpoenaed records, sought this month by the House Government Reform Committee, list White House visits by Mrs. Rich, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and former DNC finance chairman Beth Dozoretz, along with ex-White House Counsel Jack Quinn, who represented Mr. Rich.
The committee wants to know if the $1.3 million Mrs. Rich gave to Democrats and another $450,000 she donated to Mr. Clinton's presidential library in Arkansas led to the pardon which bypassed the Justice Department's normal review process and was vigorously opposed by federal prosecutors.
"The lawyers have the documents and are going through them now, trying to determine if any of the key players met with the president at the White House at the same time … which could lead to more interesting questions," said one Capitol Hill source.
While investigators have deferred much of their investigation of Mrs. Rich because of a separate probe by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White in New York, the document checks continue in preparation for a committee hearing this week.
Obtained Thursday from John W. Carlin, archivist of the United States, the new documents include White House WAVES (Worker and Visitor Entry System) records for Mrs. Rich, Mr. McAuliffe, Mrs. Dozoretz and Mr. Quinn. Mr. Carlin also was told to turn over all e-mail messages regarding Mr. and Mrs. Rich and all telephone records, logs and operator records involving Mrs. Rich, Mr. Quinn, Mrs. Dozoretz and Mr. McAuliffe.
On Thursday, three of Mr. Clinton's closest advisers are scheduled to appear for a Government Reform Committee hearing: former Chief of Staff John D. Podesta, ex-White House Counsel Beth Nolan and former White House Deputy Counsel Bruce Lindsey. Skip Rutherford, president of Mr. Clinton's presidential library foundation, also has been called to testify.
Mrs. Rich has acknowledged making campaign donations, but she denied they had anything to do with the pardon of her ex-husband. Mrs. Dozoretz, a major Democratic fund-raiser, spoke with Mr. Clinton about the pardon but has denied any wrongdoing.
Capitol Hill sources said it appears Mrs. Rich visited the White House on dozens of occasions, although they noted the review was continuing.
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans said yesterday they could call Mr. Clinton before an investigative committee in connection with the Rich pardon and other clemency orders he signed in his last days in office.
Rep. Christopher Shays, on NBC's "Meet the Press," said that after the investigative dust clears, "ultimately, I think the president may need to come before the Congress. He may want to."
The Connecticut Republican said Mr. Clinton already had defended his pardons in "a really pathetic article for the New York Times," referring to a Feb. 18 column written by the former president. Mr. Shays said such an appearance could also include Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat.
The pardon scandal expanded last week to include the former first lady as well as her brother, Hugh Rodham, who received $400,000 for his role in securing two pardons.
Federal prosecutors in New York, who initially focused on the Rich pardon, also are investigating whether Mr. Clinton commuted the sentences of four convicted swindlers in exchange for Hasidic Jewish votes for the first lady during her run for the Senate.
Also pulled into the fray was the former president's half-brother, Roger Clinton, who said he submitted a list of friends for pardon consideration.
"This is indefensible," Mr. Shays said. "We're going to look at it, we're going to be fair, and we're going to let the chips fall where they may."
Rep. Chaka Fattah, Pennsylvania Democrat, said the besieged ex-president is falling prey to a "national smear campaign." He said Mr. Clinton, "as the president, has the right to issue pardons," adding that the investigative process is unfair to Democrats.
"The process that is set up now is not fair. Let us have a fair investigation," he said, noting that any investigative committee should have equal House-Senate and Republican-Democratic membership. "Then the president should, and I think would, participate."
Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican and chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, and Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, who has led a Senate Judiciary Committee review of the pardons, said they have had no formal discussions about a joint probe, but did not rule out that possibility.
"I would be happy to talk to" Mr. Specter, Mr. Burton said on "Fox News Sunday." Mr. Specter said on CBS' "Face the Nation" he has done his best not to duplicate the House inquiry, so "coordinated efforts, if not a joint hearing, I think would be advisable."
"I think that is probably a good idea," Mr. Specter said of a joint probe.
Mr. Burton also noted on ABC's "This Week" that while Mr. Clinton may not have been involved in any illegal activity, "the appearance of impropriety is there and what we need to find out is what actually transpired so Congress and the American people can rest assured that there was no illegal activity."
He added: "I believe there is a real possibility that there were straw donors [to the former president's library] that were donating money from, possibly, Mr. Rich."
Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey said Mr. Burton's case for a continued investigation was weak, seizing on Mr. Burton's statement that Mr. Clinton's defense of his pardons didn't pass "the smell test."
"I think it's an extraordinary reach for Congress to be running around investigating citizens because the chairman of a committee says something doesn't pass a smell test," Mr. Kerrey, a Democrat, said.
Mr. Rich and his partner, Pincus Green, fled to Switzerland in 1983 after their indictment in what prosecutors said was the biggest tax-fraud case in U.S. history.

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