- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 9, 2001

President-elect George W. Bush said yesterday that "it doesn't make any sense" to pardon President Clinton because he has not been indicted.

But Mr. Bush did not rule out a pardon if Mr. Clinton is indicted. Mr. Bush added that it is time for the nation to move forward.

"It's hard to pardon somebody who hasn't been indicted for anything," Mr. Bush said during a photo opportunity in Texas after he discussed national defense with Senate leaders.

"No, I wouldn't pardon somebody who has not been indicted," Mr. Bush said.

But Mr. Bush added, "It's time to get all this business behind us." He said it is time "to allow the president to finish his term and let him move on and enjoy life and become an active participant in the American system."

Independent counsel Robert W. Ray, who is investigating Mr. Clinton's conduct in the Monica Lewinsky matter, says he will decide whether to pursue the case against Mr. Clinton shortly after the president leaves office Jan. 20.

"President-elect Bush's position during the campaign was that President Clinton has neither asked for nor sought a pardon, and he takes President Clinton at his word," Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said yesterday.

"I think we've had enough focus on the past," Mr. Bush said yesterday in Austin. "It's time to move forward."

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested Sunday that Mr. Bush should pardon Mr. Clinton.

"I think it would end a problem in America that needs to be ended," Mr. Hatch told "Fox News Sunday."

"I think it's time to put this to bed. It's time to let President Clinton fade into whatever he's going to fade into, and I just don't see keeping it alive any longer, and I don't think there's a jury in America that is going to convict President Clinton," Mr. Hatch said.

Former House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, previously hinted that a pardon would be justifiable.

"The president has had a trial, and it is over," Mr. Hyde said Feb. 12, 1999, the day the Senate acquitted Mr. Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Mr. Hyde said that "to follow up with an indictment and to put the president on trial would diminish the institution of the presidency and the nation in the eyes of the world."

Mr. Clinton also faces disbarment proceedings in Arkansas over his sworn testimony in which he denied having sex with Miss Lewinsky and said he did not recall being alone with her.

A pardon would not negate those disbarment proceedings, said Joseph diGenova, a former U.S. attorney for the District.

A pardon "obliterates a conviction" and restores a person's civil rights, Mr. diGenova said.

"A disbarment is a private matter run by the state," he said. "The right to practice law is not a civil right. It's a privilege granted by the state."

Richard W. Painter, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, concurred, saying "a presidential pardon does not extend to an attorney disciplinary hearing."

In April, Mr. Clinton told the American Society of Newspaper Editors that he was not ashamed of his impeachment and he was not interested in a pardon.

Mr. Clinton said he would not seek a presidential pardon and that he is "prepared to stand before any bar of justice."

But Mr. Clinton did not flatly rule out accepting a pardon.

"Well, the answer is I have no interest in it. I wouldn't ask for it. I don't think it would be necessary," Mr. Clinton said.

President Ford pardoned President Nixon on Sept. 8, 1974, a month after Mr. Nixon resigned and Mr. Ford took office.

Mr. Nixon was not indicted or convicted of any crime, but a New York court disbarred him in 1976.

Mr. Nixon initially did not want a pardon, said Herbert "Jack" Miller, a lawyer Mr. Nixon hired to negotiate the case involving the Watergate tapes.

"His initial reaction was that he did not want a pardon; he did not favor a pardon," Mr. Miller said last year at a forum sponsored by the Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh.

"He felt that if he had done something wrong, let him be indicted and go to trial."

Mr. Miller said he persuaded Mr. Nixon to accept the pardon only after convincing him he could not receive a fair trial.

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