- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 14, 2002

Former White House Counsel Jack Quinn and former Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sought to cut the Justice Department out of a decision by President Clinton to pardon fugitive financier Marc Rich, according to a congressional report.
The 467-page report, to be released today by the House Government Reform Committee, said Mr. Quinn and Mr. Holder "worked together" to ensure that department officials particularly federal prosecutors in New York who handled the Rich case "did not have the opportunity to express an opinion on the Rich pardon before it was granted."
"The evidence amassed by the committee indicates that Holder advised Quinn to file the Rich pardon petition with the White House, and leave the Justice Department out of the process," the report said. "One e-mail produced to the committee suggests that Holder told Quinn to 'go straight to the wh [White House],' and that the 'timing is good.'"
The report said Mr. Holder failed to notify prosecutors under him that the Rich pardon was under consideration, and he failed to offer "any credible justification" for his support of the pardon.
Mr. Rich, whose ex-wife gave $1.3 million to the Democratic Party, was pardoned by Mr. Clinton on his last day in office. At the time, Mr. Rich and his business partner, Pincus Green, were on the list of the Justice Department's six most wanted international fugitives.
He was indicted for evading $48 million in taxes and violating U.S. sanctions by trading with Iran while American hostages were held in that country. Mr. Rich fled to Switzerland in 1983 after a federal grand jury indicted him on 65 counts of tax fraud, racketeering and tax-evasion charges. He had faced 325 years in jail.
Companies owned by Mr. Rich and Mr. Green pleaded guilty in 1984 to evading millions of dollars in taxes by concealing profits on oil trading.
"The report is filled with nothing but the usual partisan accusations, allegations and innuendoes when it comes to President Clinton," said Clinton spokeswoman Julia Payne. "There is no proof of any wrongdoing by the president in this report, although Lord knows they try to make you think differently."
Both Mr. Quinn, hired by Mr. Rich to represent him in the pardon application, and Mr. Holder have vigorously denied any wrongdoing in the Rich pardon.
During a hearing last year, Mr. Holder angrily rebutted suggestions by Republicans of a possible deal in the case. Pointing his finger at Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, who made the suggestion, he said his actions in the pardon matter were "consistent with the law and with my duties as deputy attorney general."
Mr. Rich's ex-wife, Denise, also has denied that the $1.3 million in campaign donations she gave to Democratic causes had anything to do with the pardon. She described the pardon as "entirely appropriate" and denied that her political fund-raising and charitable activities played any role.
The House committee undertook an investigation of the Rich pardon after media reports showed that Mr. Clinton had signed 177 last-minute pardons. The Rich matter is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York.
In addition to the Rich pardon, the committee's report, denounced yesterday by Democrats as a "political witchhunt," also questions other pardons granted by Mr. Clinton. The report, titled "Justice Undone: Clemency decisions in the Clinton White House," will be presented today for a vote which is expected to fall along party lines.


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