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In the Crossfire

Has Clinton been vindicated?

(CNN) -- The investigation into former President Bill Clinton's grant of clemency to the leaders of a New York Hasidic Jewish community has been closed without action. Are the Clintons vindicated by this decision to drop the investigation into the clemency grants the president issued before leaving office? In a round of partisan potpourri, Peter Fenn, a Democratic strategist, and Terry Jeffrey with "Human Events" step into the "Crossfire" with hosts Paul Begala and Robert Novak.

BEGALA: Let me ask you to prove that you're a big and decent man that I know you are, and I'll show you a quote that you said. I'll put it up on the board and read it to you. You said: "What Hillary Clinton essentially said in these New Square pardons is, 'I didn't inhale,' and I don't think anybody believes her." This week, the U.S. attorney cleared Sen. Clinton and her husband of any and all charges in that. It's a good time to apologize, like the man you are. Show me the man you are.

JEFFREY: I'm not going to apologize, Paul. Let me give you the quote that Bill Clinton made that this reminds me of. March 7, 1997, where the big issue was whether the Communist government of China had illegally funneled money into Bill Clinton's re-election campaign. Bill Clinton said, "I don't believe you can find any evidence of the fact that I had changed government policy solely because of a contribution." Leaving open the interpretation if he only changed it 50 percent because of the contribution, even if I did that, you're not going to find evidence that I did.

BEGALA: You slam an innocent person. She's found innocent by the legal system, and you're not man enough to say, look, I'm sorry?

JEFFREY: I believe that Bill Clinton's pardons were corrupt on their face.


JEFFREY: I do not believe that Bill Clinton was dumb enough to create evidence of an explicit quid pro quo which would be needed in a court for bribery.

FENN: Give me a break. Give me a break.

JEFFREY: Give me an argument of statesmanship and national interest that explains why (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

FENN: I don't have enough fingers or toes to count the number of exonerations we're seeing of the Clintons. You know, it's gone from the ridiculous to the sublime. Millions of dollars spent on all these investigations, and nothing. Nothing on Whitewater. Some of these folks think he's responsible for Vince Foster's death? You know, we're going...


FENN: I can make the list. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Let me just make this one final point. History is going to be the judge on this.

JEFFREY: It sure will.

FENN: History will be the judge, and you know something?


FENN: History will come down and say, these were the most ridiculous investigations that have ever been conducted in this country, and...


JEFFREY: You believe -- you can look me in the eye...

FENN: ... disgraceful what we did.

JEFFREY: You think that there is a statesman-like argument where Marc Rich is pardoned in the early hours of the morning before Bill Clinton leaves office? That was an act of statesmanship?

FENN: Listen, let me tell you something. Agree or disagree with the pardon, you can make substantive arguments on either side for these pardons. Pardons are not for the Mother Teresas, right? I mean, you know, these people are being pardoned for a reason.




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