Schumer Unconvinced by Clinton's Explanation of Rich Pardon

CNN - February 19, 2001

NEW YORK - New York Sen. Charles Schumer said Monday former President Clinton's explanation of why he pardoned financier Marc Rich didn't convince him the pardon was right.

As he left the Association of Towns of the State of New York annual meeting at Manhattan's Hilton hotel, Schumer, New York's senior democrat, was asked if Clinton's op-ed piece Sunday in the New York Times was a creditable explanation.

"No," said Schumer. "To me there is no excuse for pardoning a fugitive from justice. You can't let somebody opt out of the system by running away, and opt into the system by being pardoned. Doesn't matter how weak the case might have been, doesn't matter how much charitable work the man did after he fled the country. He should be tried by the rules and play by the rules."

But Schumer said he thought further Congressional investigations would not be of much use.

"I think the American people want us to move on. The appropriate places for this are, of course, the court of public opinion, which I don't think will judge the pardon kindly, and if there are real allegations of wrongdoing with the investigative authorities. I am not sure these hearings serve much purpose other than to flail."

New York's other Democratic senator and Clinton's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, was asked at the same event if she thought her husband's article cleared the air.

She ignored the question.

In his op-ed piece, Clinton said he felt the pardon was justified based on the merits of the case. He denied flatly that the pardon was in exchange for donation's Rich's former wife made to his library.

"I want every American to know that, while you may disagree with this decision, I made it on the merits as I saw them, and I take full responsibility for it," Clinton wrote.

  • See Also: The Clemency Page