Foxman: I 'Probably' Shouldn't Have Asked for Rich Pardon

Melissa Radler - March 22, 2001 - The Jerusalem Post

Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman met on Monday with members of the House Government Reform Committee, which is investigating the pardon of Marc Rich.

Foxman is also acknowledging that Rich donated to ADL's overseas operations through a foundation, but declined to elaborate on details, including the amount of money given.

The meeting with the congressional committee, described by both Foxman and a committee spokesperson as an informal, half-hour conversation, took place the same day that Foxman released a statement saying he "probably" should not have written a letter to former US President Clinton requesting clemency for Rich.

"I met Monday with members of the staff of the committee for a brief conversation," said Foxman. "I didn't address it, I wasn't subpoenaed, I didn't testify."

Rich fled to Switzerland in 1983 after being indicted on 51 counts of tax evasion, racketeering and illegal trading with Iran, and has never stood trial.

In a December 17, 2000, letter to Clinton requesting clemency for Rich, Foxman wrote that "Marc Rich has made amends" through his donations to charitable causes, and that "the extent of Marc Rich's suffering has become disproportionate to his mistakes."

In a March 19 press release, Foxman wrote that he requested clemency for Rich "based on the information I had at the time. On further reflection, as this unique case unfolded, I began to question whether a person's deeds should overshadow other aspects of his behavior."

In an ADL memorandum from Monday, Foxman wrote, "In hindsight, this case probably should not have had my involvement and effort as it was not directly the ADL's clear-cut mission which is to fight bigotry, prejudice and antisemitism."

Foxman said that he had been mulling over releasing a statement concerning the Rich pardon for two weeks prior to the one released Monday, and said that the release was not linked to the committee meeting. "I did it because I wanted to put it behind me," said Foxman. "This meeting came up while I was already in Washington, and we linked it so I didn't have to make another trip."

A spokesman for the committee, Mark Corallo, said that that Foxman "is not a cooperating witness" in the pardon investigation. "He was more than helpful," said Corallo. "We really appreciated him coming in."

Corallo added that the committee is still waiting to hear back from former prime minister Ehud Barak, who was sent a letter by the committee concerning his involvement in the clemency case, and is interesting in talking to Avner Azoulay, who coordinates Rich's activities in Israel. Corallo said that the committee is not planning to speak with any other Israeli officials or US Jewish leaders concerning the case at this point, and that no hearings are scheduled at the present time.

See Also:
  • ADL Took $250,000 From Marc Rich
  • The Clemency Page