Denise Takes 5th on Pardon

Says she won't sing for Congress panel

Richard Sisk - NY Daily News - February 9, 2001

Denise Rich took the Fifth yesterday and ignited a fresh controversy when she refused to answer questions from Congress over the presidential pardon of her billionaire ex-husband, Marc Rich.

Among the questions Denise Rich balked at answering was whether the fugitive financier she divorced paid her back for the $1.3 million she lavished on the campaigns of former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and the Democratic National Committee.

In a letter from her lawyer, Denise Rich declared her intention to invoke her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination if she were called to testify before the House Government Reform Committee.

In disclosing the letter, Committee Chairman Dan Burton (R-Ind.) said that Denise Rich's lawyer, Carol Elder Bruce, told the committee staff that her client recently had contributed "an enormous sum" to the Clinton Presidential Library fund.

During a committee hearing at which both Democrats and Republicans heaped scorn on the former President's pardon of Rich, Burton said of the library contribution that, "I find it very, very troubling."

Several committee members asked Jack Quinn, who represented Marc Rich, whether there was a connection between Denise Rich's generosity toward the Clintons and her ex-husband's pardon.

Quinn denied there was any tie, but Burton said that if Denise Rich gave "an extraordinarily large amount of money" to the library, then, "on the surface, this doesn't look like a good case for a pardon."

Quinn said he didn't know how much she donated to the library, but Democratic sources said it was about $500,000.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Clinton said, "I would refer all questions to the President's transition office or the library foundation."

A spokesman for the former President declined to comment.

Burton said he would seek a grant of immunity for Denise Rich from the Justice Department to force her to testify about her presidential lobbying on her ex-husband's behalf.

Burton also said he was considering issuing subpoenas for the records of the Clinton library fund to learn how much Denise Rich and others connected to the Rich pardon may have contributed.

The Clintons are trying to raise $200 million for the library.

They have refused to release the names of contributors and the amounts each donated.

In a letter this week, Burton had invited Denise Rich, a prominent Manhattan hostess and award-winning songwriter, to testify next week and posed 14 questions that she could answer in writing.

He asked her whether Marc Rich "suggested to you that either you or your children would benefit financially as a consequence of your support of Marc Rich's pardon."

She also was requested to list all the gifts she has given to the Clintons, all the contributions she has made to their campaigns, committees and foundations, and whether she was ever "reimbursed for any political contribution made by you."

In her letter of response to Burton, Denise Rich's lawyer said her client was invoking her Fifth Amendment privilege "not to be a witness against herself and, accordingly, will not be answering any questions of the chairman or the committee.

With Timothy J. Burger

Questions from Rep. Dan Burton's committee that Denise Rich refused to answer:

  • Were all political contributions made by you between 1992 and the present made with your own money?
  • Were you reimbursed for any political contribution made by you?
  • Were you ever provided with money by any individual so that you could make a political contribution?
  • Are you aware of any communications with Marc Rich or his advisers that suggested to you that either you or your children would benefit financially as a consequence of your support of Marc Rich's pardon?
  • How much money have you given or pledged toward the Clinton library?
  • Did you ever discuss a presidential pardon with Marc Rich? If so, describe the substance, place and time of such discussions.
  • Did you ever discuss a pardon for Marc Rich with President Clinton? If so, describe the substance, place and time of such discussions.
  • Please list all gifts that you have given either to former President Clinton or to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  • See Also: The Clemency Page