Clinton Now - Excerpt - Newsweek - Cover Feature Interview - April 15, 2002
Newsweek: If you had to do it all over again, would you pardon Marc Rich?
Clinton: Probably not, just for the politics. It was terrible politics. It wasn't worth the damage to my reputation. But that doesn't mean the attacks were true. The fact that his ex-wife - I didn't think they got along - was for it and had contributed to my library had nothing to do with it.
I did it for three reasons. Number one, the Justice Department said they were no longer opposed and they were really for it. Had I not granted it, it would have been the only one they wanted publicly that they didn't grant.
Number two, he waived his statute-of-limitations defenses so we can get lots of money from him [in a civil suit, if Rich returns to the United States]. Justice Ginsburg's husband - the tax expert - said he wasn't guilty. And the Justice Department under President Reagan said he was wrongly indicted in the first place. [A claim former Reagan officials deny.]
The third thing is, I received a request from the government of Israel. They wanted him and [Jonathan] Pollard, and I considered Pollard an unrepentant spy and I didn't think I could pardon him. And I wanted to do something to support the peace process. Furthermore, [Rich's] main lawyer was Vice President Cheney's chief of staff [Lewis Libby] and they [conservative critics] tried to hide that....