Pardon Investigators to Issue Subpoenas

Neil A.Lewis - NY Times - February 13, 2001

Congressional investigators said tonight that they would issue several subpoenas in their investigation of President Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon of Marc Rich to determine whether there had been any connection between the pardon and money being raised for Mr. Clinton's presidential library in Little Rock, Ark.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the House Committee on Government Reform, said the subpoenas to be sent on Tuesday included a broadly worded one to the foundation that oversees fund-raising for the library, which is yet to be built, and one to the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Corallo said the subpoena to the foundation would be for all contributions and pledges made to the library for more than $5,000 and for all information the foundation had relating to Mr. Rich's former wife, Denise, and other members of the Rich family.

David E. Kendall, Mr. Clinton's lawyer, has already suggested that the library foundation would resist disclosing the list.

Mr. Corallo said, "The committee intends to follow every lead in this case."

The committee was also sending subpoenas to two banks in which Denise Rich held accounts.

Mr. Corallo also said subpoenas would seek any information from the library about its involvement with Beth Dozoretz, a Democratic fund-raiser who was part of the effort to win the pardon. Ms. Dozoretz was the party's finance chairwoman for much of 1999, and party officials said today that she had been responsible for dealing with Ms. Rich's donations. The subpoena to the Democratic National Committee will seek any checks or communications with Ms. Rich.

Mr. Rich and his partner, Pincus Green, both wealthy international traders who fled to Switzerland to avoid facing criminal charges, were pardoned by Mr. Clinton just hours before he left office on Jan. 20. The pardon has resulted in widespread criticism of Mr. Clinton and questions in Congress and elsewhere over whether the pardon was related to large contributions and pledges by Ms. Rich to the Democratic Party and the Clinton library project. Ms. Rich has donated $500,000 to the Democratic party since 1997 and has pledged $450,000 to the library.

The House committee also today asked the State Department to report on whether Mr. Rich remained a United States citizen since his citizenship status could have a bearing on his ability to make political contributions. Foreigners are barred from making such donations.

Representative Dan Burton, an Indiana Republican who is a longtime foe of Mr. Clinton and is chairman of the government reform committee, held a hearing last week in which he released documents showing the pardon came after a campaign in which lawyers for Mr. Rich took their case directly to the White House rather than the Justice Department.

Ms. Rich invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and the House committee is considering granting her immunity to compel her to testify.

Attorney General John Ashcroft hinted today that he might not object to the committee granting immunity to Ms. Rich.

In his first news conference since his confirmation hearings, Mr. Ashcroft was repeatedly asked about the Rich pardon, but he refused to say if the Justice Department would take any interest in the issue.

When asked about his views on a plan by the Republican majority of the House committee to grant immunity to Ms. Rich, he gave what seemed a mild signal of support.

The attorney general cannot prevent Congress from granting immunity. But he noted that in the past, Congressional immunity had spoiled the chances of any criminal prosecution and that Justice Department officials generally discouraged it.

"I have to say though," Mr. Ashcroft added, "that I respect the right of the United States Congress to get information and to grant immunity in order to get information."

The Rich pardon continues to echo on other fronts.

The firm that handles speaking engagements for Mr. Clinton said today that he continued to be flooded with speaking requests, as he criticized Morgan Stanley, the investment company, for its decision to apologize to clients for a speech made by Mr. Clinton last week.

Despite Morgan Stanley's statement, two other institutions that have agreed to pay Mr. Clinton for speeches over the next several weeks the investment firm Credit Suisse First Boston and Salem State College in Salem, Mass. said today that the speeches would go forward, even though each had received a few complaints from clients.

In an e-mail message to clients late last week, the chairman of Morgan Stanley, Philip J. Purcell, said that the decision to invite Mr. Clinton to speak at a Florida conference had "clearly been a mistake" and that the anger of some of the firm's customers was understandable in light of "Mr. Clinton's personal behavior as president."

Morgan Stanley said it received dozens of complaints from customers, with some threatening to pull their money out of the firm, because of the speech. A spokeswoman would not comment today on whether any had followed through on the threat.

Bob Watson, a project manager for a trailer manufacturer in Southern California, said he told his broker that he planned to move his account out of Morgan Stanley.

"I do not believe in the way that Mr. Clinton conducts business," Mr. Watson said. "When the people I invest my money with solicit him to talk to them, they're spending my money."

The company has faced criticism as well from admirers of Mr. Clinton, who say that its implicit criticism of his presidency in the e-mail message was unfair.

Thomas E. Dwyer, a Boston lawyer who contributed to Mr. Clinton's campaign, said: "I intend to move my money out of Morgan Stanley, and I hope to organize every other Clinton contributor and supporter in the commonwealth of Massachusetts to do the same."

Other critics of Mr. Clinton said they were pleased by Mr. Purcell's e-mail message.

Donald G. Weiser, a computer instructor in Pisgah Forest, N.C., received the message after writing the firm to complain over its decision to invite Mr. Clinton. Mr. Weiser said that he was not a client of Morgan Stanley but that he would now consider becoming one.

"I feel so good about what they did that I may switch part of my portfolio to them," he said.

Spokesmen for Mr. Clinton's transition office declined to release a list of Mr. Clinton's upcoming paid speeches and referred all calls on the issue to the former president's lecture agent, the Harry Walker Agency of New York.

Don Walker, the company's president, said in a telephone interview that "in my 29 years in this business, I don't remember ever coming across a situation like this."

Mr. Walker said that Mr. Clinton had several firm commitments for speeches in the next several months.

While he would not identify the institutions that had signed contracts for speeches by Mr. Clinton "I let the organizations make the announcement," he said Mr. Walker said that the Morgan Stanley controversy should have no impact on Mr. Clinton's desirability on the lecture circuit, where he is reported to earn $100,000 a speech.

The Rich pardon will be the subject of scrutiny in the Senate on Wednesday when Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, is scheduled to hold a judiciary subcommittee hearing on clemency issues. Mr. Specter has said there might be a need for a constitutional amendment to restrict the president's unlimited authority to grant pardons.

Mr. Specter has also suggested that it is possible to impeach President Clinton again even though he is out of office, although he said he was not urging that. Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the College of William and Mary and an impeachment authority, said it was indeed theoretically possible to impeach a president after he has left office.

  • See Also: The Clemency Page