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House focuses on Clinton staff in pardon probe

Mary Jo White
Mary Jo White  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The House Government Reform Committee will hold another round of hearings on the Marc Rich pardon on March 1.

The committee, chaired by Indiana Republican Dan Burton, expects to hear from Beth Nolan, White House counsel during the final days of the Clinton administration; Bruce Lindsey, deputy White House counsel and a Clinton confidant; John Podesta, former White House chief of staff, and Jack Quinn, attorney for Rich.

The committee wants to focus on the involvement of the White House staff in the pardons of Rich and his associate Pincus Green, according to a statement.

In letters, the committee also asked Rich and former President Clinton to waive all privileges that may be asserted regarding documents and communications related to the pardons.

Indictment: U.S. v. Marc Rich
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CNN's Frank Sesno says continuing controversy puts Clintons on the wrong side of Washington's favorite game

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CNNfn's Greg Clarkin says while Congress questions Clinton officials, a U.S. attorney in New York opens investigation

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CNN's Bob Franken reports on the continuing controversy over the presidential pardon of Marc Rich

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There has been no decision on calling Beth Dozoretz, former finance chair of the Democratic National Committee. Dozoretz is a friend of Rich's ex-wife Denise Rich.

The U.S. Justice Department has asked the committee to delay seeking immunity of Denise Rich in order to get her to testify.

The House committee wants Denise Rich to testify about the donations she made to the Democratic party and to Clinton's library.

In a statement, Burton said, "It will take at least one week for the Justice Department to arrive at a final conclusion on this matter. Therefore, the committee does not anticipate taking any actions with respect to Mrs. Rich for at least one week."

Also on Thursday, Manhattan federal prosecutor Mary Jo White confirmed that the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office have launched a criminal investigation into whether a transfer of money was tied to the pardons of Rich and Green.

White, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District for New York, and Barry Mawn with the FBI's New York office issued the following statement about the probe:

"Various questions have been raised concerning the activities and pardons of Marc Rich and Pincus Green.

"The United States attorney's office and the FBI New York office have opened an investigation to determine whether there have been any violations of federal law. There will be no further comment."

Federal officials say the investigation is focused on -- among other areas -- whether Rich bought the pardon with money funneled through his ex-wife, Denise, as campaign contributions or donations to Clinton. Those federal sources also confirm that the FBI has been brought in to assist in the investigation.

One source familiar with the original Rich case said the U.S. attorney's office was angered that the pardon was granted and wanted to investigate whether it was tied to donations given to Clinton's presidential library by Denise Rich.

Rich and ex-wife
Marc and Denise Rich in 1986, 10 years before their divorce.  

Meanwhile, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, told CNN Thursday he expects to hold a follow-up hearing, and hear testimony from Dozoretz and Nolan.

A senior Specter aide said the lawmaker wants to have the hearing on March 7. The aide said Specter wants to find out from Dozoretz what her role was in the Rich pardon.

The Specter aide said it is important for lawmakers to ask Nolan whether her office clearly communicated to Justice Department pardon attorney Roger Adams that Rich was a fugitive.

Adams told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that the information was not relayed to him.

Clinton said his decision to grant a pardon to financier Marc Rich was not related to fund raising or other factors.

In a statement released Wednesday, the former president said, "As I have said repeatedly, I made the decision to pardon Marc Rich based on what I thought was the right thing to do. Any suggestion that improper factors including fundraising for the DNC or my library had anything to do with the decision are absolutely false. I look forward to cooperating with any appropriate inquiry."

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