- The Washington Times - Friday, February 9, 2001

President Clinton told the Democratic National Committee's finance chairman 10 days before his pardon of Marc Rich that he wanted to issue the clemency order and was doing everything "possible to turn around" White House lawyers opposed to the fugitive financier's pardon.
A memo released yesterday by the House Government Reform Committee during a rancorous daylong hearing shows that Mr. Clinton personally called Beth E. Dozoretz, the DNC's national finance chairman, to say "he wants to do it."
The memo from Robert Fink to Jack Quinn, both members of Mr. Rich's legal team, said Mrs. Dozoretz relayed the president's comments to Mr. Rich's ex-wife, songwriter Denise Rich, during a Jan. 10 visit by the two women to Aspen, Colo.
"DR called from Aspen. Her friend B who is with her got a call today from potus who said he was impressed by JQ's last letter and that he wants to do it and is doing all possible to turn around the WH counsels," the memo said.
The term "potus" is a common shorthand reference to the president of the United States.
"DR thinks he sounded very positive but 'that we have to keep praying.' There shall be no decision this wknd and the other candidate milkin is not getting it," the memo said. "I shall meet her and her friend next week she will provide more details."
The committee is investigating whether the $1.3 million Mrs. Rich donated to Democratic Party campaigns, including Mr. Clinton's 1996 re-election bid, played a role in his decision to issue the pardon which did not go through the Justice Department's normal review process and was vigorously opposed by federal prosecutors who sought criminal charges against Mr. Rich.
"Why do you think the president needed to share information on the pardon with the finance chairman of the DNC?" Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, asked Mr. Quinn, who underwent more than seven hours of often-hostile questioning by committee Republicans and some Democrats.
"I don't know," said Mr. Quinn.
"Was anyone at the White House supportive of this pardon other than the president?" Mr. Barr asked.
Mr. Quinn did not respond directly to the question, but acknowledged that "[White House Counsel Beth] Nolan, at some point, was not favorably disposed."
In a separate Jan. 16 memo, Mr. Fink wrote to Mr. Quinn that the White House counsel's staff was "not supportive" of the Rich pardon, but was not in "a veto mode." He said Mr. Quinn's efforts with the president "are being felt" and suggested that he "keep at it as long as you can."
"We are still definitely in the game," he said.
The committee is expected to call Miss Nolan and other White House lawyers to testify in the near future.
Mrs. Dozoretz did not not return calls last night to her Washington home for comment.
Mrs. Rich yesterday, in a letter to the committee, refused to testify, asserting her Fifth Amendment privilege not to be a witness against herself. Her attorney, Carol Elder Bruce, wrote that Mrs. Rich "will not answer any questions of the chairman or the committee."
The committee's chairman, Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, described Mrs. Rich's decision not to testify as "very, very troubling," but said the panel would ask the Justice Department to grant her immunity so she would be compelled to appear and answer the committee's questions.
"The American people deserve to know the facts," said Mr. Burton.
Also during the hearing, former Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said he was only minimally involved in the pardon process after being advised in November by Mr. Quinn of Mr. Rich's pending application to the White House.
He acknowledged that he did little to find out about the case, but said he assumed that because Mr. Rich was a fugitive, it would not go forward.
"Knowing what I know now about this case, I would have made a recommendation to the president against the pardon," said Mr. Holder.
Mr. Holder also angrily denied suggestions by Republicans of a possible deal in the case after acknowledging that he had spoken with Mr. Quinn about the possibility of him becoming attorney general in a Gore administration.
Pointing his finger at Mr. Barr, who made the suggestion, he said: "My actions in this matter had nothing to do with my desire to be attorney general. My actions were consistent with the law and with my duties as deputy attorney general."
During the hearing, Mr. Quinn said the Rich pardon was deserved because the government's case was flawed.
He said prosecutors misused the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act as a "hammer" to indict Mr. Rich and his partner, Pincus Green, on 65 counts of racketeering, income-tax evasion and fraud.
Mr. Quinn said prosecutors Morris Weinberg Jr. and Martin J. Auerbach constructed a legal "house of cards," which was based on meritless charges and his client fled to Switzerland after his 1983 indictment because he did not believe he would get a fair trial.
Mr. Auerbach and Mr. Weinberg, who sat next to Mr. Quinn for what proved at times to be an acrimonious hearing, both expressed "outrage" over the pardon, adding that it was not deserved in this case.
"If we had a legal house of cards, it was all aces," said Mr. Auerbach. "The one card we did not have was the 'get out of jail' card and Mr. Rich now has that card."
Mr. Weinberg told the committee the Rich investigation was the biggest tax-fraud case in U.S. history and that Mr. Rich had shown "an utter lack of remorse or contrition."
The committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California, described the pardon as "an end run around the judicial process" and called Mr. Clinton's decision to grant it "incredibly bad judgment."
"But under the current system, the president is allowed to make bad judgment… . I see plenty of bad judgment, but I see no evidence of criminal wrongdoing that has been presented to us," he said.
Questions have been raised over Mr. Rich's pardon, one of 140 granted by Mr. Clinton less than two hours before he left office.
Mr. Clinton has said he awarded pardons to Mr. Rich and Mr. Green based on the merits of the case as argued by Mr. Quinn and that the Democratic contributions from Mr. Rich's ex-wife had nothing to do with the decision.

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