Hill Denies Any Role In Wiping Rich Slate Clean

Brian Blomquist and Vincent Morris - NY Post - February 9,2001

WASHINGTON - Newly released documents show Marc Rich's lawyers desperately wanted Hillary Rodham Clinton's support for a pardon for Marc Rich, but Clinton yesterday denied ever being contacted.

"I know nothing about that," Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.) told The Post, while repeating her denial that she ever had any role in the pardon that has sparked outrage.

Rich, a fugitive indicted in 1983 on 51 counts of tax fraud and trading with Iran during a U.S. embargo, got a last-day pardon from Bill Clinton that wiped his record clean.

In a trail of e-mail messages brought to light by congressional probers, Rich's lawyers discussed getting fat-cat contributor Denise Rich or Anti-Defamation League Director Abraham Foxman to lobby Hillary Clinton.

But there was no proof they ever followed through, and Rich's lead pardon lawyer, Jack Quinn, insisted yesterday the legal team ultimately dropped the idea.

"I do not believe that anyone ever approached Sen. Clinton," Quinn told House investigators.

Asked if he ever contacted Mrs. Clinton on the Rich pardon, Foxman - who did write a personal letter backing the pardon - said via a spokesman, "Absolutely not."

But on several days in late December and early January, Rich's legal team heatedly discussed bringing Hillary onto their side.

In a Dec. 26 e-mail to Quinn, New York lawyer Robert Fink wrote, "Of all the options we discussed, the only one that seems to have real potential for making a difference is the HRC option."

Fink was on Rich's legal team, and HRC was a reference to Mrs. Clinton. The "HRC option" was discussed in several other messages, with Quinn, a former White House lawyer, coming across as a clear advocate of lobbying her.

Another Rich lawyer, Avner Azulay, wrote in a Dec. 27 e-mail to Quinn that "I have been advised that HRC shall feel more at ease if she is joined by her elder senator of NY [Chuck Schumer] who also represents the Jewish population."

Azulay's e-mail sparked an effort by Quinn and the other lawyers to find someone "who is close enough to lean on Schumer."

On Dec. 28, Fink wrote that Denise Rich "was adamantly against" lobbying Hillary and was "convinced it would be viewed badly."

Nonetheless, another Fink e-mail on Dec. 30 said Quinn "thinks HRC will hear about this anyway and still wants to contact her."

  • See Also: The Clemency Page