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Senate Committee Set to Investigate Rich Pardon

Aired February 13, 2001 - 1:05 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: One PR problem goes away; another remains and that's the pardons. Two congressional committees are investigating the pardon granted this man, Marc Rich, on Mr. Clinton's last day in office. It's not just Rich's alleged crimes that have many lawmakers up in arms. The big question now center on citizenship, contacts and money; mostly money.

CNN national correspondent Bob Franken is following the story and joins us. What's the latest, Bob?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it gets more tangled every day. The latest will come tomorrow when the chairman of the committee, the Senate committee that's going to start hearings tomorrow on the pardons, in particular, the one of Marc Rich. The chairman of that committee, Arlen Specter, is going to raise the question about whether the pardon in fact -- excuse me -- was actually properly put together, in fact, if it is valid.

And he's going to present some documents that include the list of pardons that President Clinton said he would grant at the last minute. But the actual pardon, Specter will ask, was it prepared by the pardon attorney Roger Adams after Clinton left office. Does it matter? Would that possibly mean that it was invalid?

He is also going to cite, CNN has obtained these documents, cite a memo that Roger Adams, who is the pardon attorney at the Justice Department, wrote to the director of the Office of Public Affairs on January 20th, saying on the above date, President Clinton granted Mr. Rich a full and unconditional pardon after completion of sentence.

Specter raises the question, was there ever a sentence? The answer is no. So, would that in fact block the pardon. Of course, the other possibility is this is just a memo, not an official document, and might not be relevant.

Tomorrow's hearing will have as a first witness, Roger Adams, that pardon attorney. Other witnesses will include the lawyer for President Clinton, Jack Quinn and Eric Holder, the former deputy attorney general, both of whom we saw last week testify before the House Government Committee.

That committee, on the House side, has sent out a number of subpoenas. We reported yesterday subpoenas would go out to Denise Rich and her banks, seeking bank records to see if there were any deposits that came from Marc Rich, her ex-husband, that were then turned around into campaign contributions; something that's very hard to actually prove unless you can show that there's sort of a parallel transaction that takes place.

The committee has also sent out requests to the Secret Service for all the archives and all of the logs that show visits by Jack Quinn to the White House. Quinn, of course, is the former White House counsel who is the one representing Marc Rich successfully, getting a presidential pardon.

The committee is also sending letters to the National Archives asking for phone logs and the like and also inquiring whether there was role for the now Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. And it's also seeking intelligence information on Marc Rich from the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency amid some allegations that there is secret material on Marc Rich that the president should have inquired about before he granted the pardon.

So, there's a lot going on. This is an issue, Lou, that has a lot of life to it.

WATERS: Yes, I would say. Bob Franken up on Capitol Hill.

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