- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2001

Former President Jimmy Carter accused Bill Clinton of selling his presidential powers with his "disgraceful" pardon of fugitive tax-evader Marc Rich.
Saying he believes the Rich pardon was influenced by huge donations from Mr. Rich's ex-wife, Mr. Carter became the most prominent Democrat thus far to condemn what he called Mr. Clinton's "quite questionable" Inauguration Day pardons.
Such criticism from Democrats including some who were Mr. Clinton's strongest defenders during the Monica Lewinsky scandal has now become a daily routine, highlighting the ex-president's loss of power within his party.
"I think Bill Clinton is finding out how cold it is outside the White House in February," said Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity.
"It's a combination of Democrats saving their own necks and the fact that he's out of office with no favors to bestow on anyone," Mr. Lewis said.
The criticism also reflects Democrats' belief that Mr. Clinton's scandals have hurt the party.
"A lot of Democrats think Clinton is to blame for losing the White House and our not being able to win back the Congress," a Democratic pollster said. "The criticism you're hearing stems from their deep frustration with last year's elections and the belief that it's Clinton's fault."
Public opinion also has turned against Mr. Clinton. A poll this week by John Zogby showed that the pardon has sent his approval scores plummeting, with a 51 percent majority disapproving of his conduct.
"If there was not substantial outrage around the country, you would not hear this outrage within Clinton's own party," Mr. Lewis said.
Mr. Carter's denunciation of the Rich pardon was the strongest signal to date that Mr. Clinton no longer can depend on his party to rally around him in time of trouble.
"I think President Clinton made one of his most serious mistakes in the way he handled the pardon situation in the last few hours he was in office," Mr. Carter said Tuesday during a speech at Georgia Southwestern State University. "A number of them were quite questionable, including about 40 not recommended by the Justice Department.
"I don't think there is any doubt that some of the factors in his pardon were attributable to his large gifts. In my opinion, that was disgraceful."
Denise Rich, Mr. Rich's former wife, gave $1 million to the Democratic National Committee, $450,000 to the Clinton library fund and $70,000 to Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign in New York.
Mr. Carter's broadside came on the same day that his former White House chief of staff, Hamilton Jordan, attacked the Clinton pardons in the Wall Street Journal.
"It is difficult for the average citizen to comprehend how outrageous Bill Clinton's pardons are to those of us who have worked in the White House," Mr. Jordan wrote.
If he had suggested to Mr. Carter that he grant a pardon "to someone who contributed generously to our campaign and even promised to contribute to the Carter presidential library, he would have thrown me out of the Oval Office and probably fired me on the spot," Mr. Jordan wrote.
Mr. Jordan accused the Clintons of being calculating, "self-absorbed," "arrogant" people, driven by "their own egos, appetites and ambitions," who "developed a feeling of invincibility … after his impeachment trial."
He compared them to "grifters," a term used in the Great Depression "to describe fast-talking con artists who roamed the countryside, profiting at the expense of the poor and the uneducated, always one step ahead of the law, moving on before they were held accountable for their schemes and half-truths."
Mr. Clinton might expect such criticism from Mr. Carter and his chief aide both of whom criticized his conduct in the Lewinsky scandal but now he is being criticized by some of his staunchest liberal defenders.
"There's no excuse for what he did for Marc Rich. This should not have been done," said Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat.
Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, who staunchly defended Mr. Clinton in the Lewinsky scandal, has called the Rich pardon "outrageous."
"It was a terrible thing he did," Mr. Frank told the Boston Herald. "It was just abusive. These are people who forgot where the line was between public service and what was personally convenient for them."
Even a die-hard defender like William M. Daley, who served as Mr. Clinton's commerce secretary and became Al Gore's presidential campaign chairman, has called the pardons "terrible, devastating" and "rather appalling."
"In many ways, Clinton's escapades have given Democrats the opportunity to publicly express what in the past they only privately muttered," said Marshall Wittmann, political analyst at the Hudson Institute.
Perhaps the most telling criticism came from Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has been a solid base of Clinton support.
"The little guys that I represent really have a problem with [the pardon] because they sit here and say, 'Wait a minute, I'm sitting in jail for 20 years. I may have done one-millionth of what was allegedly done here, but I'm sitting in jail. And I didn't have the money to go off somewhere else. I didn't have the money to hire the big-time lawyers,' " Mr. Cummings said.

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