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Justice Department to Investigate Rich PardonAired February 15, 2001 - 4:18 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us from Washington, CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack. Roger, we talk about the FBI and Justice Department involved in a criminal probe, did does that mean that they think that there's a possibility that Mr. Clinton did something illegal, criminal.
ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Joie, I don't want to take it quite down that far but what I would say is that obviously when you have a criminal investigation, you have the Justice Department, you have the FBI, there is some reason to believe, not a strong reason, because you don't need a strong reason, but some reason to believe that there may be some crimes that have been committed.
And what they want to find out, at least at this point, is they want to find out about Denise Rich. They want to find out, I am sure, where her money came from. Was it was her money or was it her husband's money that was donated?
They want to find out everything they possibly can about that whole procedure, and of course, whether or not, and I suggest that there is so far, I don't think any evidence has suggested this, but at least want to find out, was there any quid pro quo?
Did the -- was it set up so that someone said, I'll give you the money, you give me the pardon? Now, so far there is, I think, no evidence to indicate that, but there is certainly that kind of activity that, you know, causes some concern.
CHEN: So, the questions would be in the nature of possibility of bribery or funneling money, something in that nature?
COSSACK: That's right, and what the FBI will do is, I think the first thing we're going to start seeing is subpoenaing of her records and subpoenaing of the records of the library to find out where the money came from and find out how she got her money. Was is money that she had that she donated or did the money come from someone else?
These are legitimate kind of questions that the agents look for and the Justice Department will look for and just, I want to add one more thing. Just because they're looking into it, doesn't mean that anything wrong was happening. Remember, the president has the absolute right under the Constitution to give a pardon to anyone he so desires to. And if he wants to give it to Marc Rich, he can.
CHEN: On that point...
COSSACK: It's the surrounding on this situation that makes it a little uncomfortable, I think.
CHEN: All right, but on that point specifically, we know lawmakers on Capitol Hill are looking at that question. They don't have the ability, at least at this point, to undo a pardon that's already been done by a president. Would the U.S. attorney have the power to undo a pardon?
COSSACK: No, that pardon is an done deal, Joie. I mean, that pardon is over. The question really is, and the only one that they're looking into, is perhaps two possible crimes. One would be, was there bribery? You know what bribery is, when you pay somebody, you pay a public official for something.
Or second of all, was there some kind of money laundering that went through Marc Rich through his wife to the donations? That is the kind of thing they're going to be looking into. You know, whether or not they're going to find any evidence or smoking guns or whatever, we have to wait and see.
CHEN: CNN legal analyst and host of "BURDEN OF PROOF," Roger Cossack with us. Thanks, Roger
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