- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Fugitive financier Marc Rich yesterday refused to testify before a House committee investigating his Inauguration Day pardon by Bill Clinton, while the ex-president waived executive privilege to allow the testimony of his former top aides.
Mr. Rich, whose controversial pardon has engulfed Mr. Clinton in a criminal investigation and two congressional inquiries, also refused to free his lawyers from the attorney-client privilege blocking any effort by investigators to get them to explain what they did to win the pardon.
The billionaire fugitive joins a growing list of persons who have refused to testify, including his ex-wife, Denise Rich, and Beth Dozoretz, a former campaign finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Mr. Rich, through his attorney, said he would not appear before the House Government Reform Committee as requested because of the ongoing criminal and congressional investigations.
"Should Mr. Rich waive his privilege with respect to any of these inquiries, it may be asserted he has thereby waived important and legitimate privilege claims with respect to all current and future government investigations or private actions," attorney Laurence Urgenson said in a letter.
Meanwhile, Mr. Clinton's attorney, David E. Kendall, told the House committee the former president had waived executive privilege to allow the testimony tomorrow by three former top aides.
Former Chief of Staff John Podesta, ex-White House Counsel Beth Nolan and former White House Deputy Counsel Bruce Lindsey, one of Mr. Clinton's closest advisers, were subpoenaed to appear before the committee. They are expected to testify that they opposed the Rich pardon, but were overruled by Mr. Clinton.
Mr. Kendall told the committee the former president "will interpose no executive privilege objections to the testimony of his former staff concerning these pardons, or to other pardons and commutations he granted."
A claim of executive privilege gives a president the right to keep secret the deliberations that lead to decisions of the chief executive.
Mr. Kendall, who also serves as attorney for Mr. Clinton's presidential library foundation, also agreed to give committee leaders a peek at its list of donors.
Following a threat of a contempt citation and an exchange of letters, Mr. Kendall agreed that Committee Chairman Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, and the panel's ranking Democrat, Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California, could review the list.
"If you both decide that someone on the list is relevant to your investigation, we will produce to you all foundation documents relating to that name," Mr. Kendall said. "You both will, of course, have a chance to review all the names of people who have pledged or contributed more than $5,000."
Mr. Burton, who said two staff members from each party also would be allowed to see the documents, described the offer as a "compromise which allows the committee to obtain the information it needs for its investigation."
But the chairman told Mr. Kendall the committee would retain its right to subpoena additional documents, to hold the foundation in contempt for its failure to provide requested documents and to subpoena the foundation's bank records to obtain the names of donors.
Last week, the committee subpoenaed lists of all donors contributing more than $5,000 to Mr. Clinton's Arkansas library foundation as it continued its investigation into possible political influences of the Rich pardon. Mrs. Rich contributed $450,000 to the library, along with $1.3 million to the Democratic Party.
Mr. Rich, who fled to Switzerland in 1983 after his indictment in what federal prosecutors called the biggest tax-fraud case in U.S. history, was among 140 persons receiving a pardon from Mr. Clinton on his last day in office. That pardon sparked the congressional inquiries and the criminal investigation by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White in New York.
At the time of his pardon, Mr. Rich was listed on the Justice Department's list of top fugitives for tax evasion, fraud and participation in illegal oil deals with Iran.
Mr. Kendall initially rejected efforts by the committee to obtain the list, saying any demand for it would be "flagrantly violative of the First Amendment, and we would resist it."
The compromise offer was made Monday by Mr. Burton, who said his committee review would eliminate those not pertinent to the investigation before they were handed over to the panel.
In related matters:
Mrs. Rich and Mrs. Dozoretz, with whom Mr. Clinton spoke about the Rich pardon, denied published reports that they visited the White House on Jan. 19, just hours before Mr. Clinton signed the Rich pardon.
Secret Service logs show the women were checked into the executive mansion at 5:29 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., but Mrs. Dozoretz's husband, Dr. Ronald Dozoretz, told reporters he, his wife and their children flew to Los Angeles at 4 p.m. on Jan. 19, and Mrs. Rich's lawyer, Martin Pollner, said through a spokeswoman, "Denise Rich was not at the White House on January 19."
Mrs. Rich visited the White House at least 13 times during Mr. Clinton's tenure. Mrs. Dozoretz, a Democratic fund-raiser who visited the Clinton White House 43 times, was recruited by one of Mr. Rich's attorneys, Jack Quinn, to lobby Mr. Clinton on the pardon.
Rep. Barney Frank, Mr. Clinton's chief Capitol Hill defender during the sex scandals and impeachment proceedings, also joined in the chorus of criticisms surrounding the pardons. The Massachusetts Democrat wants a constitutional amendment to suspend pardoning power during the last months of a presidency "to prevent this pattern recurring."
"The abuses we have seen of the pardoning power most egregiously by former President Clinton came in the lame-duck period just after a presidential election and before the inauguration of a new president," Mr. Frank said in a statement.
If a pardon is justified, the president granting it "should be prepared to defend it before the American people while he or his party is still subject to electoral sanction," he said. An amendment would restrict the timing of pardons to reduce "chances that it will be abused."
Audrey Hudson contributed to this report.

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