- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2001

President Bush said yesterday "it's time to move on" from the continuing scandals swirling around former President Bill Clinton, even as congressional investigators intensified a probe into one of his questionable pardons.
"My attitude is, all this business about the transition, it's time to move on, it is. It's time to stay looking forward, and that's what I'm going to do," Mr. Bush said.
Speaking with reporters on Air Force One en route to Washington from Norfolk, the new president also damped down another controversy over the ex-president.
"All the allegations that they took stuff on Air Force One are simply not true," he said, referring to reports that members of Mr. Clinton's party stripped the plane of china, silverware and other items with the presidential seal the day he left office.
On Capitol Hill, investigators yesterday stepped up their probe of fugitive financier Marc Rich's pardon, issuing subpoenas and requests for bank records and White House phone and visitor logs.
His ex-wife, Denise Rich, has given more than $1 million to Mr. Clinton and other Democrats since 1992 and reportedly contributed $450,000 to the Clinton library in Arkansas shortly before Mr. Rich was pardoned.
The House Committee on Government Reform yesterday subpoenaed the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation for all records of pledges and contributions exceeding $5,000 from the Riches and other members of the Rich family.
The library foundation, which is raising more than $200 million, has refused to divulge its donors list, calling it a private list kept by a private firm.
The panel also issued subpoenas for records from two of Mrs. Rich's U.S. banks. The subpoenas aim to determine whether any of Mrs. Rich's donations came from her billionaire ex-husband or were funneled through conduits from him or his Swiss companies.
The panel also sent letters to the Secret Service and National Archives seeking White House visitor entry logs and phone records.
Those requests focus on determining how often Rich lawyer Jack Quinn, a former Clinton White House counsel who lobbied for his pardon; Mrs. Rich; her two daughter or her son-in-law spoke to or visited someone there.
But the committee also sought records of calls between Mr. Clinton, White House counsel Beth Nolan, Clinton aide Bruce Lindsey, chief of staff John D. Podesta, and Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton friend and Democratic fund-raiser who is now head of the Democratic National Committee.
Also included in the request is any record of phone calls to or from Beth Dozoretz, a former finance chairman of the DNC. Mr. Clinton called Mrs. Dozoretz on Jan. 10 to say he wanted to issue the pardon and was doing everything possible "to turn around" White House lawyers opposed to it.
In addition, Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican and panel chairman, asked the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency to declassify information on Mr. Rich given to him in a briefing Feb. 6.
Mr. Rich fled to Switzerland 17 years ago, running from more than 50 counts of racketeering, wire fraud, evading nearly $50 million in income taxes and illegally trading oil with Iran.
Mr. Bush's desire to "move on" has done little to stamp out the fires from Mr. Clinton's departure which included 140 last-minute pardons and 36 commutations; reports of vandalism at the White House by departing staffers; and taking nearly $200,000 in gifts, some meant for the White House.
Just days out of office, Mr. Clinton ignited another inferno when he quietly asked a government agency to foot the bill for a swank office penthouse in Manhattan.
The new president, however, said he understands the role of the legislative branch. "Congress is going to what they're going to do. They've already started the process," he said yesterday.
The House committee, which held a daylong hearing into the Rich pardon last week, has asked Mrs. Rich to answer 14 written questions. She has refused, claiming her constitutional protection against self-incrimination.
On Monday, Attorney General John Ashcroft said he would be open to giving Mrs. Rich immunity in response to a request by Mr. Burton, who wants her to testify.
One of the questions asked how much money Mrs. Rich had given to Mr. Clinton's library foundation. Her lawyer told the committee she donated an "enormous sum of money" to the fund, reportedly about $450,000.
Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will open a probe of the Rich pardon today. He said he plans to question witnesses about whether the pardon is legally valid.
"There may be a real issue as to whether a pardon has been granted here," Mr. Specter told reporters. The committee will question pardon lawyer Roger Adams, author of a Jan. 20 message to the Justice Department that says: "On the above date, President Clinton granted Mr. Rich a full and unconditional pardon after completion of sentence."
Mr. Rich never served a sentence.
Mr. Specter said Sunday that Mr. Clinton could be impeached again. But lawmakers yesterday backed away from the idea.
"That cracked me up," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican. "I would not be interested in that. That would be just so unnecessary."
Mr. Specter yesterday clarified his position.
"I said at the time I was not suggesting that it be done, and I'm not suggesting that it be done now." But he said "it ought to be known that it's a potential remedy. We're dealing with a very serious matter, and I think all of the alternatives ought to be in the public domain."
While Republicans were not eager for another impeachment trial, they said they have the responsibility to determine whether the pardon came in exchange for campaign contributions.
Sen. Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican and assistant majority leader, said the pardon "doesn't pass the smell test."
"Congress has the right to have some oversight if there's been real abuse of the pardon. And it looks like there was in this case," Mr. Nickles said.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said both parties want to get beyond the "whole era" of the Clinton administration, but said the Senate would be "derelict in our duty" if it did not review the pardon.
Mr. Specter said "the possibility has been raised" that Mr. Clinton may be called to testify before a congressional committee.
Meanwhile, the House committee asked the State Department for a ruling on whether Mr. Rich, who claims to be a foreign citizen, is in fact a U.S. citizen.
If Mr. Rich is a citizen, he would owe millions of dollars in back taxes on his income since 1983.
Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the department has a policy of not commenting on a person's citizenship status, but he noted that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled in a 1991 case that Mr. Rich had shown no intent to give up his citizenship.
Dave Boyer and David Sands contributed to this report.

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