- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2001

Objections to Bill Clinton's presidential pardon of billionaire fugitive Marc Rich have rejuvenated the possibility of another impeachment.
Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee and a former prosecutor, did not elaborate on what specific charges Mr. Clinton might face. But based on his legal research, Mr. Specter believes a former president "technically could still be impeached."
Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Mr. Specter said, "I'm not suggesting that it should be done, but President Clinton technically could still be impeached."
The Pennsylvania Republican said that the Rich pardon had left Mr. Clinton open to possible impeachment "because a president may be impeached for the emoluments of office, such as the substantial sums being spent on the library, such as the bodyguards, such as his pension." He added, "I don't think that trial would take too long."
Mr. Specter said Mr. Clinton "avoided a conviction on impeachment the last time around because he had not lost the confidence of the American people, and we didn't want to shake up the government. But he's not in office anymore."
In impeachment proceedings, the House brings charges and the Senate tries the case. Mr. Specter said "someone" in the House could soon talk about possible articles of impeachment, but the senator added, "No, I don't have anybody in mind."
Legal experts were divided on whether the Constitution allows Congress to pursue an impeachment case either over a president's use of his pardon power or against a president who has left office.
Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican, rejected the idea of a new impeachment case against Mr. Clinton but raised the possibility of using other methods to reduce the former president's pension, office rent allowance and other administrative expenses.
Mr. Specter's demand for a possible impeachment inquiry came as other other events threatened to engulf Mr. Clinton in a full-scale scandal. Newsweek magazine, in its issue due to hit newsstands today, reports that Mary Jo White, U.S. attorney for New York, is considering opening a criminal probe into the former president's pardon of Mr. Rich, whose ex-wife, Denise Rich, made lavish donations to the Democratic Party.
Citing sources close to Miss White, the magazine said the New York-based prosecutor was "livid" about not being consulted about the Rich pardon.
Miss White is likely to pursue Mrs. Rich's bank records to determine if she was used as a conduit for contributions from her ex-husband.
The pardon shocked even Mr. Clinton's staunchest allies after the disclosure that Mrs. Rich had donated $1.3 million to the Democratic Party and $450,000 to a fund financing Mr. Clinton's future presidential library.
Reflecting embarrassment among Democrats over the Rich pardon, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware yesterday told Fox news that Mr. Clinton "was brain-dead when he did that one."
It also was reported yesterday that Philip Purcell, chairman of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., which paid Mr. Clinton more than $100,000 for his first post-presidency speech last week, told clients that the investment house "clearly made a mistake" by inviting the former president to speak.
The Washington Times also has learned that attorneys for Mr. Rich expected legal challenges over a pardon for the fugitive financier and sought to limit the impact on Mr. Clinton by dropping Mr. Rich's longtime business partner off the clemency request and portraying it as an "individual humanitarian" gesture.
Avner Azulay, who manages Mr. Rich's Switzerland foundations, said in a Dec. 27 e-mail the removal of Mr. Rich's business associate, Pincus Green, from the application would "reduce the impact of or bypass any of the legal aspects/ difficulties which might be brought to potus [president of the United States] by the lawyers, and stress the humanitarian side of the petition."
The e-mail, sent to former Clinton White House Counsel Jack Quinn, said Mr. Green who, like his partner, was indicted in 1983 for evading $48 million in taxes and violating U.S. sanctions by trading with Iran while American hostages were held in that country had proposed the idea.
"PG [Pincus Green] proposes that the option of 'dropping him' from the petition be made available to potus if that can facilitate his decision on MR [Marc Rich]," said Mr. Azulay, a former Israeli Mossad agent. "This would qualify his decision as an individual humanitarian act rather than the solution to the legal case."
The e-mail noted that Mr. Green believed that, by making Mr. Clinton's decision easier in favor of Mr. Rich, he also would be helping himself and "make his own solution less problematic." It also said Mr. Rich had agreed to the proposal.
The two former assistant U.S. attorneys who brought the legal case against Mr. Rich and Mr. Green have both expressed "outrage" over the pardon, saying during hearings last week before the House Government Reform Committee that the clemency order by Mr. Clinton was not deserved.
Prosecutors Morris Weinberg Jr. and Martin J. Auerbach told the committee that the investigation was the biggest tax-fraud case in U.S. history, and that Mr. Rich had shown "an utter lack of remorse or contrition."
Mr. Green's suggestion was never acted on by the attorneys, although it was part of a full-court press being considered by Mr. Rich's legal team to win a pardon from Mr. Clinton which came on Jan. 20 with less than two hours left in his term.
The attorneys personally solicited support from nearly every Jewish leader in this country and in Israel, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel; Abe Foxman, national director of the U.S. Anti-Defamation League; World Jewish Congress President Edgar M. Bronfman; Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak; and Avraham Burg, speaker of the Israeli Knesset.
They also sought help from Mrs. Rich. At one point, according to documents released by the House committee, the attorneys even drafted a personal letter for Mrs. Rich to send to the president requesting the pardon suggesting that Mr. Clinton "wisely use" his "power to pardon Marc."
The House committee continues its investigation and plans additional hearings, probably next month. In the meantime, it will ask the Justice Department this week for a grant of immunity for Mrs. Rich, who refused to testify last week citing her Fifth Amendment privilege not to be a witness against herself.
It also will subpoena records showing what money Mrs. Rich contributed to Mr. Clinton's presidential library.
Clinton foundation attorney David Kendall said yesterday he would oppose any subpoena for a list of library donors. He said any demand for the donor list would be "flagrantly violative of the First Amendment, and we would resist it."
The library foundation wants $200 million to build the facility. As a tax-exempt organization, it is required to file annual financial disclosures with the Internal Revenue Service but does not have to reveal individual donors.
The House committee has questioned the propriety of the pardon and wants to know if Mr. Clinton had an improper motive for the pardon, if law enforcement authorities were consulted before it was granted, and if any regulations governing the lobbying of the president were violated.
Mrs. Rich has denied that campaign donations she gave to Democratic causes had anything to do with the pardon. She described the pardon as "entirely appropriate" and denied her political fund raising and charitable activities played any role.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on Mr. Clinton's pardons Wednesday.
This story is based in part on wire service reports

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide