Jewish financier Marc] Rich claimed he deserved
a pardon by the U.S., whose citizenship he had
renounced, and whose taxes he evaded, because he
had given many millions to Israeli
[Fugitive Jewish financier Marc] Rich claimed he deserved a pardon by the U.S., whose citizenship he had renounced, and whose taxes he evaded, because he had given many millions to Israeli charities.
Toronto, Canada, February 18, 2001
Clinton: Money talks and criminals walk
By ERIC MARGOLIS
LOS ANGELES -- William Jefferson Clinton did not leave the White House. He oozed out of it, leaving a trail of reeking corruption that left even his most faithful defenders gagging in revulsion.
First, to escape prosecution for perjury in the Monica Lewinsky case, Clinton admitted lying under oath, had his law licence suspended, and paid a US$25,000 fine.
Next, the Clintons made off with $180,000 of White House furnishings, and a truckload of gifts from influence-seekers, including expensive tables from a certain Mrs. Denise Rich.
Then, at midnight on his last day in office, Clinton pardoned 140 criminals. Drug dealers formed the largest number, followed by mail fraudsters, assorted crooks, even a con-man I had encountered a decade ago.
Among the felons Clinton pardoned were his cocaine-dealing brother, Roger; Whitewater business partner and sometime former lover, Susan McDougal; and the disgraced former CIA director, John Deutch.
McDougal's refusal to testify to Whitewater investigators saved Bill and Hillary Clinton from indictment for fraud. Charges against Deutch have not been fully revealed.
Clinton pardoned four men from a Hassidic community in upstate New York who had swindled the U.S. government of millions. By sheer coincidence, Hillary Clinton won that community's votes in her Senate race.
So far, so bad. Then came the Marc Rich bombshell. Clinton rushed through a pardon for Rich, a fugitive billionaire financier who was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. Rich, and his partner fled to Switzerland in 1983 as U.S. federal prosecutors were about to arrest them for massive fraud, tax evasion, and illegal arms and oil deals with Iran, Iraq and Libya.
A note of full disclosure: I am acquainted with both Marc Rich and his former wife, Denise, and was recently a guest at her three-storey penthouse on Fifth Ave. in New York.
Marc Rich is a brilliant, charming man who radiates intelligence. The last time I met Rich was in Marbella, Spain, sporting a beautiful new wife. Ex-wife Denise, a songwriter, is a warm, gregarious woman who is fast becoming the queen bee of New York's liberal cultural glitterati set.
Denise Rich contributed $1 million to the Democratic party and, recently, $450,000 to the new Clinton Library.
Some of this money may have come from Marc, who reportedly transferred funds into his wife's name before fleeing the U.S. Denise denies these donations influenced Clinton's 12th-hour decision to pardon Marc. But when called to testify about the pardon before Congress, she took the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.
Marc Rich mounted an international campaign to win a pardon. He even got Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel to lobby for him, as well as the head of Mossad, who said Rich had often helped Israel's intelligence agency. Rich claimed he deserved a pardon by the U.S., whose citizenship he had renounced, and whose taxes he evaded, because he had given many millions to Israeli charities. Denise claimed Marc had been "suffering in exile," while he lived in a lavish Swiss estate.
Even ardent Democrats couldn't defend Clinton's latest disgraceful behaviour. As indignation swept across the U.S., federal prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into Clinton's pardon of Rich. Proving bribery is extremely difficult.
Clinton, who has nimbly skirted the law throughout his career, will probably escape conviction yet again.
Frankly, I don't blame the Riches if they tried to buy a pardon from the everything's-for-sale Clintons.
So many others bought the Clintons, why shouldn't they?
There was the amazing $100,000 Hillary made overnight in futures trading, courtesy of an Arkansas chicken producer.
Bill and Hillary's rich liberal friends in Hollywood, provided the lion's share of Democratic party funding in exchange for U.S. political support and a couple of billion in extra aid for Israel. All those mysterious Chinese gentlemen with cash-stuffed envelopes, producing trade concessions and U.S. missile technology for China, said "thank you" to Bill. A $1 million donation from Indian-Americans tilted U.S. policy toward India.
The list goes on and on.
For the Clintons, politics has always been a giant cash cow.
Before coming to Washington, Gov. Clinton of Arkansas had few assets and earned less than a good secretary does in New York. Today, the Clintons have somehow become multi-millionaires on an after-tax, annual presidential salary of about $125,000, in spite of millions of dollars of legal expenses.
They accomplished this feat, let's use the right term, by peddling influence.
Former president Ronald Reagan granted 180 pardons over two terms in office. Most were for patriotic government officials. George Bush Sr. pardoned patriots like Casper Weinberger and other Iran-Contra players. These were patriots, not felons. By contrast, Clinton's pardons, mainly for crooks and sleazy cronies, say volumes about the character of this disreputable man who manages, even now, to dishonour the presidency.
If Osama Bin Laden had the good sense to contribute a few million dollars to the Clinton Library, he would now probably be lunching with Bill and Hillary in Manhattan, instead of hiding in the frigid mountains of Afghanistan.