Citing Pardon, Mayor Drops Meeting With Mrs. Clinton

Elisabeth Bumiller - NY Times - January 26, 2001

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said yesterday that he had canceled a meeting that he was to have held today with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton because he was "very upset" about her husband's pardon of Marc Rich, the commodities broker charged with evading $48 million in taxes and trading oil with Iran.

Mr. Giuliani brought the case against Mr. Rich when he was the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.

"I worked a long time on that case," Mr. Giuliani said at a news conference at City Hall. "A lot of my assistant U.S. attorneys did. The U.S. attorney's office as an institution, which I treasure greatly, has invested a lot in that case. So has the Justice Department. I spent more of my life working for the Justice Department than the city of New York. I think what the president did was an outrage."

Bill Clinton pardoned Mr. Rich, the former husband of Denise Rich, a benefactor of the Democratic Party and Mrs. Clinton's Senate campaign, on his last day in office. Since then a furor has built against it, not least from Mr. Giuliani. Yesterday, Mr. Giuliani called yet again for a Congressional investigation into the pardon.

The mayor also said it was "strange" that Mr. Clinton had commuted the prison sentences of four Hasidic men from New York after the president and his wife had met at the White House with supporters of the men. The men's religious sect overwhelmingly supported Mrs. Clinton in her Senate race.

Mr. Giuliani, a Republican, was Mrs. Clinton's opponent in the Senate race until he dropped out after a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Asked yesterday if he blamed Mrs. Clinton for her husband's pardon of Mr. Rich, Mr. Giuliani deflected the question. "I just don't think this is a good time to have a meeting," the mayor said. "I think we'd all get distracted on these questions."

Mr. Giuliani added that if the meeting were to take place today, the news conference afterward would be dominated by questions about Mr. Rich.

The meeting with Mrs. Clinton was to have been a ritual get-together at City Hall between the mayor and the newly elected New York senator. The time of the meeting had been changed at least once before because of scheduling conflicts.

On Wednesday, Mr. Giuliani said that he had been approached many times by Mr. Rich's lawyers and representatives over the last 15 years with offers of money in exchange for agreements that Mr. Rich could return from Switzerland, where he was a fugitive, and not go to jail.

The money offered, Mr. Giuliani said, was sometimes in the form of contributions to be made by Mr. Rich to a charity designated by the United States attorney's office. At one time, the mayor said, Mr. Rich's representatives offered "an enormous amount of money" to the New York City Board of Education in return for a promise by the federal government that he would not go to jail.

"At different times there were different things that they wanted," Mr. Giuliani said. "When I was U.S. attorney, they wanted to make an actual deal. After I was U.S. attorney, they wanted me to support one, and say that I thought it would be a good idea."

Mr. Giuliani's Senate campaign manager, Bruce Teitelbaum, said this week that Mr. Giuliani also once met with Denise Rich at the time of Mr. Giuliani's Senate race. But neither Mr. Teitelbaum nor Mr. Giuliani would say what happened during that meeting. "Suffice it to say that Denise Rich did not raise any money for the Senate campaign," Mr. Teitelbaum said.

Howard Wolfson, Mrs. Clinton's spokesman, would say yesterday only that "Mrs. Clinton stands ready to work with Mayor Giuliani on behalf of the people of New York."

Mr. Giuliani said he would eventually meet with Mrs. Clinton.

  • See Also: The Clemency Page