|Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback||
Clinton Pardons: Former Clinton Aides Testify Before House Government Reform CommitteeAired March 1, 2001 - 12:45 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we're going to take you live back now to the nation's capital, to the hearings at the House Government Reform Committee, looking into the Clinton pardons; specifically Marc Rich. We have yet to hear any witnesses testify; still in the opening statements phase. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
REP. STEVEN LATOURETTE (R), OHIO: ... observation that this hearing will talk about whether or not there's illegality.
I think that there are other things that this committee is looking at and should be looking at. For instance, one of our colleagues from Massachusetts, Congressman Frank, has introduced a constitutional amendment to indicate that perhaps pardons are not appropriate by lame-duck presidents between the time of the election and when they leave office. And I think that the facts developed at the last hearing and this hearing can illuminate us on that.
I think that this committee can certainly take a look at the revolving-door policy, of when someone who works for the administration or for Congress can come back and lobby. I think that that's an appropriate discussion.
My personal opinion is that Mr. Quinn sort of took the revolving door off the hinges as he spun around and went back into the White House to gain this particular pardon.
While the history lesson with President Bush and his relatives was interesting, I think what's intriguing with Mr. Rodham, the former first lady's brother, is that when Mr. Quinn was before the committee, he indicated that he didn't violate the revolving door policy because he was subject to the
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: As we continue to listen to the committee members making their opening statements, let's check in now with our Bob Franken on Capitol Hill -- Bob.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're going through this ritual. There had been a hope on the part of Congressman Burton that the members of the committee would forego the opening statements that they wanted to make. But as we're finding out, many of them at least want to put themselves on the record. I think that what we've heard is probably worth a review, a little bit. First of all, the news probably that came from Congressman Burton, the chairman's opening statement, was that they have a document that the RICO prosecution was going to be abandoned, according to Congressman Burton, by the U.S. attorney. What's so significant about that is that one of the arguments that has been made by Marc Rich's attorney is that there had been an overzealous prosecution, and that there had been an inappropriate use of the racketeering influence laws in the prosecution of Marc Rich.
Well, now comes Congressman Burton to say that there had been an offer to abandon that part of the prosecution, which nevertheless did not dissuade Marc Rich from staying out of the United States, facing the other charges. That, of course, is going to be described at length.
Now, on the other side, Henry Waxman. He is the ranking Democrat on the committee. First he said what every Democrat says these days, that he believes that President Clinton, ex-President Clinton, made a mistake when it was that he granted the pardon to Marc Rich.
But he believes that this is all part of a double standard. He went on to say that I don't believe that this committee should engage in such selective indignation. He went on to talk about questions that have been raised about pardons from other presidents that did not cause the outcry that this one has caused.
Now, the first real development in this hearing after all the opening statements will be the appearance by Beth Dozoretz. We already know what's going to happen. She is, her lawyers say, going to not testify. She's not going to answer the questions, claiming that she has a constitutional protection, of course the Fifth Amendment protection, against self-incrimination. They're going to make her, in fact, sit before the cameras and do that. We've already seen that she sat in the audience just listening as people discuss that.
Her attorney says that the reason for that is for, quote, "the pendancy of other investigations," by which he means the criminal investigation that is being conducted by the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. Therefore, says her attorney, Tom Green (ph), she cannot testify because she might legally jeopardize herself.
And the way this is going to work is that there are going to be two questions asked, we're told, by Congressman Chris Shays, a Republican member of the committee. If it goes according to the script, she will refuse to answer those questions and will be excused.
And then we'll get to what will take up most of the committee's proceedings today: the panel of former Clinton administration officials who were there -- the top administration officials -- when the pardon decisions were made at the very end of the administration. There's going to be a long discussion about exactly what conversations took place there. President Clinton -- ex-President Clinton has given up his protections under executive privilege, meaning that unless there's some legal surprise, there should be quite an open discussion about what those conversations were.
HARRIS: Well, at this rate, Bob, Beth Dozoretz may not get a chance to take the Fifth until the 5th, maybe the 5th of March, if each of these committee members is going to make a statement today. Do we know whether or not that's going to be the case?
FRANKEN: Well, one can only hope. But I would assume some of the members of the committee won't. But never forget: this is the United States Congress.
HARRIS: OK, well let's listen in again.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
REP. BERNARD SANDERS (I), VERMONT: ... hundreds of millions of dollars that have come in to the political process from the wealthiest people in this country and see, maybe, there might be a correlation that the legislation that come out benefits overwhelmingly the wealthiest people in this country.
So I would agree with what Mr. Waxman said earlier. I think it's important that we have this hearing, that we learn about what Mr. Clinton did, and his terrible lapse in judgment. But if we're going to talk about money in politics, let's talk about money in politics. The influence that money had on Mr. Clinton, the influence the money has on the Republican Party and the Democratic Party and then open up that issue so the American people, once again, can have faith in the political process in this country.
LATOURETTE: Will the gentleman yield to me?
SANDERS: I yield.
LATOURETTE: I'd be delighted to join you in all of those activities. And I think the distinction that I would draw is if any of those activities have a quid pro quo, they're all wrong and the ones that you...
SANDERS: Good, then let's work together.
LATOURETTE: I'd be happy to work with you.
SANDERS: And, Mr. Burton, I hope that you will work with us on those, as well.
REP. DAN BURTON (R-IN), CHAIRMAN: I'd be happy to look into that with you, Mr. Sanders.
BURTON: Are there any further opening statements? If not, Ms. Dozoretz, would you rise and raise your right hand, please.
Do you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
BETH DOZORETZ, FORMER FINANCE CHAIR, DNC: I do.
BURTON: Mrs. Dozoretz, do you have any kind of opening statement?
DOZORETZ: No, I don't.
BURTON: Then we will start with 30 minutes on each side. I will yield the first to Mr. Shays.
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, Mr. Chairman, first let me thank you and ranking member Waxman for two very thoughtful statements, I appreciate it very much.
Good morning, Ms. Dozoretz.
DOZORETZ: Good morning.
SHAYS: Welcome to this hearing on presidential pardons, and thank you very much for being here.
This committee has almost been overwhelmed by what appears to be a number of inexcusable pardons granted by President Clinton in the 11th hour of his presidency.
Many on this committee question why a number of pardons were granted and we questioned the process by which they were granted. On the surface, it seems someone was more likely to get a controversial if they gave to the president's party or to its candidates, gave to the new presidential library, hired White House or Washington insiders, or used the services of family members of the former president and his wife.
SHAYS: We question why some of the pardons were granted, and the process by which they were granted. The fact that 40 weren't vetted with the Justice Department, the fact that some were not properly documented, and the fact that they were granted to a major drug dealer, who was caught shipping 800 pounds of cocaine -- to four individuals who defrauded $30 million from government education programs designed to help those most in need, to an individual who practiced medical fraud, and is still under additional investigations.
But of all the pardons, the hardest one for us to understand and justify is the pardon of Marc Rich, an individual who allegedly made $100 million in illegal profits; attempted to hide $48 million in profits; fled the country and became a 17-year fugitive from justice; renounced the U.S. citizenship; and traded with Iran, while our hostages were there, Iraq around the time we had hostilities in the Gulf, Libya, Korea, and the apartheid South African government.
Ms. Dozoretz, we are an investigative committee that tries to root out waste, fraud and abuse in government. And Lord knows, it appears we seem to see all three in this pardon process. I hope these hearings, besides helping to root out fraud, lead to an improvement in the pardon process -- not change the Constitution, but the process -- help improve the revolving door requirements and public disclosure of money raised by sitting presidents and their libraries.
Your testimony is invaluable to us, and would help us conclude our investigation much more quickly. So with all this in mind, I would like to show you exhibit 63, and to ask for your response. What I'd like to do is just read parts of it.
Do you have a copy of it?
Number 2 says: "DR called from Aspen," and we understand from Jack Quinn, that that is Denise Rich. "Her friend B," we understand from Jack Quinn is you, Beth Dozoretz, "who is with her got a call today from POTUS," who we understand to be the president, "who said he was impressed by JQ's," Jack Quinn, "last letter." And that, "He wants to do it, and is doing all possible to turn around the White House counselors. DR," Denise Rich, "thinks he sounded very positive but," quote, "that we have to keep praying," end of quote.
"There shall be no decision this weekend. And the other candidate, Milek (ph)," which we understand to be Michael Milken, "is not getting it." And then, number three, "I shall meet her and her friends next week. She will provide more details." Now, what I would like to ask is the following. Exhibit 63 is an e-mail which indicates that on January 10, 2001, President Clinton called you in Aspen, Colorado, where you were staying with Denise Rich. The e-mail indicates that the president discussed the Marc pardon with you before he spoke with the Justice Department. My question is, at any time while you were discussing the Marc Rich pardon with President Clinton, did either you or the president mention Denise Rich's contribution to the Clinton Library or the Democratic National Committee?
DOZORETZ: Upon the advice of my counsel, I respectfully decline to answer that question based on the protection afforded me under the United States Constitution.
SHAYS: Let me ask you this: Will that be your response to all our questions? Or are those that are specific subjects or persons you will not discuss and others you are willing to discuss with us?
DOZORETZ: Sir, that will be my response to all questions.
SHAYS: Thank you, Ms. Dozoretz. I know it hasn't been easy coming here today, and we appreciate your informing the committee personally of your decision to assert your rights under the Fifth Amendment, even though your lawyer had done so earlier. In doing so, you show respect for our responsibility in our process.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
BURTON: The gentleman yields back.
Mr. LaTourette, no questions?
Let me just say that since Ms. Dozoretz has exercised her Fifth Amendment rights and has said she wants to continue to do so, we have no further questions, and we will be happy to excuse her. But if you have questions, go ahead.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Mr. Chairman, I understand that Denise Rich, who also took the Fifth Amendment, but wasn't required to come here today to assert it, has indicated that she is going to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York, which is, of course, the official investigation as to whether any criminal actions took place.
I don't think I could get an answer from Ms. Dozoretz because I think, as I understand the rules, if she answers any questions then she's waived her right not to testify. But I presume and expect and hope that she is also going to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney's Office.
As I understand the matter, witnesses who are being called to testify and cooperate with law enforcement may well feel that they ought to take the Fifth Amendment here, but cooperate there. I, again, regret that she was brought here to assert what the chairman knew she would assert, her constitutional right not to testify. While people say that it's not for media spectacle purposes, I wish that the TV audience could see all the people here with cameras who were anxious to take her photo as she asserted her rights, which we expected she would do.
I have no questions.
BURTON: Mr. Waxman, I'll retain my time.
Let me just say, why do you assume that she wouldn't take her Fifth Amendment rights before the U.S. attorney?
WAXMAN: I can't answer whether she will or she won't. I could ask her the question, but I presume that that would be...
BURTON: No, I understand, but the comments you made indicated that you assumed...
WAXMAN: The reason I made that statement is that Denise Rich is going to cooperate and is cooperating with the U.S. attorney, and has taken the Fifth Amendment with regard to this committee. I presume and expect and will get a response, I expect, from Ms. Dozoretz and her attorney, if not on the record right now, shortly and publicly, that they would be cooperating with the official law enforcement of this case.
BURTON: Well, Mr. Waxman, perhaps you know something we don't, and I appreciate your sharing your expectations with us. But let me say this about Ms. Rich. I have heard she's a very fine lady, and we certainly didn't want to cause her any undue heartburn as well.
Ms. Rich, we sent a letter, as we have always done, to the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Justice Department to find out if they objected to our granting Ms. Rich or possibly Ms. Dozoretz immunity for testifying, and the U.S. attorney indicated they were opening a criminal investigation, and I believe they've empaneled a grand jury. Whenever the U.S. attorney or the attorney general indicates to this committee that they would request that we not grant immunity because it might interfere with their investigation and might cause a person, who might possibly be convicted of a felony, and our granting immunity would impede that process, then we don't grant immunity, and we always write that letter.
Now, we received response back from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who said that they were opening a criminal investigation and asked us not to grant immunity. And since Ms. Rich planned to take the Fifth Amendment and we decided not to try to grant her immunity at the request of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, we decided not to call her. Those are the facts. And that has not been the case with Ms. Dozoretz, and that's why she was asked to be here today.
LATOURETTE: Mr. Chairman, would you just yield to me for a minute?
BURTON: I'd be happy.
LATOURETTE: I think Mr. Waxman's earlier observation is correct, at least my limit understanding of the law is that if Mrs. Dozoretz answers any question she can't pick and choose what questions she answers, so I think he's right about that. But I think, also, she can't pick and choose, nor can Mrs. Rich pick and choose, which forum she chooses to speak in.
And once she violates or says that she is no longer invoking the Fifth Amendment, should that be in the Southern District of New York or some other forum, she no longer retains that right. And I would ask, perhaps, that if she breaks this code of silence and determines that she wants to give testimony and not invoke the Fifth Amendment in another forum, that perhaps the committee send through her lawyers written questions, when she no longer has the privilege available, so that we may have the benefit of those answers that she's giving to others to help us in our probe.
BURTON: Thank you, Mr. Latourette.
REP. BOB BARR (R), GEORGIA: We're getting off on a tangent here that I'm not quite sure is accurate. Any individual has the right with regard to any question put to them to assert an articulable basis for not testifying if it incriminates them. And I'm not quite sure that we're all operating within the bounds of a clear understanding of the law when we say, "Simply because a person may choose to assert the right with regard to question A, that means they have to assert to all or none."
Ms. Dozoretz, I think we can, you know, at least get one issue off the table here. This has nothing to do with the hearing today, but is it your intention to cooperate with any investigation being conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York?
DOZORETZ: I rely on the advice of my counsel, sir. BARR: In other words, your counsel has instructed you not to cooperate with any probe by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York?
DOZORETZ: I will rely on the advice of my counsel, sir.
BARR: And does that advice include telling you not to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York?
DOZORETZ: I will rely on the advice of my counsel, Mr. Barr.
BARR: Which is to assert your Fifth Amendment rights, even as to that question?
DOZORETZ: It's privileged, sir.
BARR: What is privileged?
DOZORETZ: The advice of my counsel.
BARR: But you keeping citing it, so it's not really privilege, because you keep citing it.
Apparently the witness, Mr. Chairman, will not even state to the American people or to this panel whether it is her intention to cooperate with the Department of Justice. I think that's very unfortunate. That's unfortunate advice, but apparently that's where we are.
BURTON: Well, we're prepared, Mr. Waxman, to release Ms. Dozoretz. Do you have any more comments?
WAXMAN: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I do want to make a further comment. I don't want the chairman or anyone else to think I'm being critical of how you've handled the situation with Ms. Rich in not asking her to come in and give her immunity and force her to testify because there is an ongoing law enforcement investigation.
I must also say that I take a harsh view of people not willing to cooperate with committees of the Congress. And if I had my way, I wish Mrs. Dozoretz would testify, because I think people ought to testify before committees of the Congress.
But I do understand that she is, under the guidance of her lawyers, sorting thorough a legal thicket, where on the one hand you have the committee of the House investigating, committee of the Senate investigating, and the U.S. Attorney's Office investigating.
It has been reported that Denise Rich, who also said she would take the Fifth Amendment before Congress, is, at the present time, talking to the U.S. attorney.
Now, I can't say from my own knowledge whether Ms. Dozoretz is doing the same. But I can say from my own knowledge, knowing her, that she is a responsible person and that she has been very philanthropic. She has been a concerned citizen, and as such, I would expect to hear that she is also going to be cooperating with the U.S. attorney's office.
I just wanted to make that statement and have my views very clearly on the record.
BURTON: If there is no further discussion or questions, Ms. Dozoretz and your counsel, thank you very much for being here. We'll excuse you at this time.
The next panel that we will welcome to the witness table will consist of Jack Quinn, Beth Nolan, Bruce Lindsey and John Podesta.
HARRIS: All right, we -- as the committee here takes a break in between panels here, let's call in our Bill Schneider, who's been standing by in our Washington bureau listening.
Well, Bill, now that we've actually seen Beth Dozoretz come in and take the Fifth -- Ms. Dozoretz, rather, come in and take the Fifth -- it's actually happened now.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right.
HARRIS: What exactly does all this mean, and where do things lie now?
SCHNEIDER: Well, that's a matter of interpretation. And you saw -- you heard an interpretation from different members of the committee. Bob Barr said that his interpretation is it indicates she has something to hide. Clearly the committee wanted her there. And they wanted those cameras there taking her picture, which was called attention to by Mr. Waxman, the Democrat, because they wanted her to look like, you know, someone who is a criminal trying to hide something by taking the Fifth.
We've seen it taken many times in the past in congressional investigations by people who were subsequently charged with crimes. That was the appearance they wanted to create. She didn't have to appear. Denise Rich did not appear.
On the other hand, Mr. Waxman the congressman, the Democrat, the ranking minority member of the committee, said all it means is she was not able to participate, which the Republican, Bob Barr, called a euphemism, and went back to his argument that she had something to hide. Clearly this was a bit of public relations here because the Republicans want to create the impression that there was criminal activity.
They all called attention to the fact that there's a separate investigation by the U.S. attorney. And at least one of the people who took the Fifth Amendment without appearing before the committee, Denise Rich, according to Mr. Waxman, will or is cooperating with the U.S. attorney's investigation in New York.
KAGAN: And here comes the next panel of witnesses. We should hear more from them. We don't expect any of them to plead the Fifth. Let's go ahead and listen in.
JACK QUINN, ATTORNEY FOR MARC RICH: Mr. Chairman...
BURTON: Can you pull the mike a little closer, sir?
QUINN: As you know, Mr. Chairman, I testified before this committee for almost nine hours a few weeks ago, and I, subsequently, testified before a Senate committee. I've submitted to this committee, for inclusion in the record of its hearings, my Senate testimony. And I'll stand on that, and be prepared to answer any questions you may have today.
BURTON: Well, we appreciate your coming back and being with us.
Ms. Nolan, do you have an opening statement? NOLAN: Mr. Chairman, I do not have an opening statement, but I'm prepared to answer your questions.
Thank you, Ms. Nolan.
BRUCE LINDSEY, FORMER ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, sir, I do not have an opening statement, but I'm prepared to answer any questions.
BURTON: OK, thank you.
JOHN PODESTA, FMR. WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes, I'd like to make an opening statement.
BURTON: You're recognized.
PODESTA: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is John Podesta. From November 1998 until January 2001, I served as President Clinton's chief of staff. Between January of 1993 through June of 1995 and between January of 1997 through November of 1998, I held other positions in the Clinton White House.
Between June of 1995 and January of 1997, I was a visiting professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center, and I have recently returned to the law center as a visiting professor.
As the committee requested, in its letter inviting me here today, I will briefly outline my recollections of my discussions concerning the Marc Rich-Pincus Green pardon matter. This matter arose during, as you know, an exceedingly busy period at the White House, as President Clinton's term was drawing to a close.
Because I was involved in a great many issues unrelated to pardons during this time, and I do not have access to records, my ability to reconstruct these discussions has been limited, but I'm prepared to share with committee what I do recall.
My first recollection of this matter is that sometime in mid- December 2000, I returned a call from Mr. Peter Kadzik, who had been a friend of mine since we attended law school together in the mid-1970s. I remember that Mr. Kadzik told me that his firm represented Mr. Rich and Mr. Green in connection with a criminal case, and that Jack Quinn was seeking a presidential pardon for them.
At that point, I was unfamiliar with the Rich-Green case. Mr. Kadzik asked me who would be reviewing pardon matters at the White House. I recalled that I told him the White House counsel's office was reviewing pardon applications. A few days later, Mr. Kadzik sent me a summary of the cases, which I believe I forwarded to the counsel's office.
Shortly after the first of the year, Mr. Kadzik again called and asked that, in light of the pardons that President Clinton had issued around Christmas, whether any more pardons were likely to be considered. I told him that, yes, the president was considering additional pardons and commutations, but it was unlikely that one would be granted under the circumstances he had briefly described, unless the counsel's office, having reviewed the case on the merits, believed that some real injustice had been done.
I thought that a pardon in the Rich-Green case was unlikely, but still knew relatively little about it.
That call from Mr. Kadzik, I believe, prompted me to ask Ms. Nolan about the merits of the case. I believe she or Ms. Cabe or both told me that Rich and Green were fugitives in a major tax fraud case, and that whatever the merits of the underlying case, it was the unanimous view of the counsel's office that the appropriate remedy was not a presidential pardon.
I learned then, or subsequently, that Mr. Lindsey was of the same view. I strongly concurred in that judgment.
A few days later, Mr. Kadzik asked if he could see me for a few minutes. I agreed, and we had a brief meeting in my office. He again raised the Rich-Green pardon case. I told him that I, along with the entire White House counsel's staff, opposed it and that I did not think it would be granted.
At that point, I believed that the pardons would not be granted, in light of the uniform staff recommendation to the contrary, and that little more needed to be done on the matter.
Mr. Kadzik made one more call to me, and I believe we spoke on either January 15 or 16. He told me he had been informed that the president had reviewed the submissions Mr. Quinn had sent in, and was impressed with them and was once again considering the pardons. I told him that I was strongly opposed to the pardons and that I did not believe they would be granted.
On January 15 or 16, I also spoke with former Congressman John Brademas, president-emeritus of New York University. Mr. Brademas, who is a friend of King Juan Carlos of Spain, called to tell me that he had received a message from the king. The message concerned the Rich pardon case. Mr. Brademas told me that he understood Israel's foreign minister, Shlomo Ben Ami, had visited the king to brief him on the Middle East peace process and had raised the Rich case. Mr. Ben Ami evidently had asked the king to call President Clinton to support the Rich pardon application. And Mr. Brademas in turn had been asked if he could make known the king's interest to the White House.
Mr. Brademas did not advocate a pardon. He simply asked me whether the pardon was likely or even possible. I told him that while it was the president's decision, the White House counsel's office and I were firmly opposed, and I did not believe that the pardon would be granted.
Late on January 16, I believe, the staff met with President Clinton on some other pardon matters. And the president brought up the Rich case and told us that he thought Mr. Quinn had made some meritorious points in his submission. He clearly had digested the legal arguments presented by Mr. Quinn, since he made a point of noting the Justice Department had abandoned the legal theory underlying the RICO counts and mentioned the Ginsberg-Wolfman tax analyses.
The staff informed the president that it was our view that the pardon should not be granted.
On Friday afternoon, January 19, the president talked to Prime Minister Barak in a farewell call. While the bulk of that call concerned the situation in the Middle East, Prime Minister Barak raised the Rich matter at the end and asked the president once again to consider the Rich pardon.
That evening, the president had a final meeting with White House counsel to discuss pardon matters. While I was there for part of that meeting, I had to leave for a scheduled television interview and was not present during the discussion of the Rich-Green cases. I was informed of the president's decision to pardon Mr. Rich and Mr. Green by Ms. Nolan on Saturday morning, January 20.
Members of the committee, on February 18, former President Clinton stated in the New York Times his reasons for granting the Rich and Green pardons. One could disagree with his reasoning, as many have. One can say that he did not adequately consult with the Justice Department officials before issuing the pardons, as the president, himself, acknowledged in his statement. But I believe that President Clinton considered the legal merits of the argument for the pardons as he understood them and he rendered his judgment, wise or unwise, on the merits of the case.
BURTON: If there are no further opening statements, we'll now go to the 30 minutes on each side. And I believe we're going to yield to Mr. LaTourette for the first part of that.
LATOURETTE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And welcome to all.
Mr. Podesta, I think that your opening statement gets to the first set of questions that I had.
Is it your recollection that January 16 of this year was the first time that you personally discussed the Pincus Green-Marc Rich pardon with the president of the United States?
PODESTA: That's my recollection is it's the first time it came up with the president in my presence.
LATOURETTE: In your presence?
How about you, Mr. Lindsey?
LINDSEY: I certainly don't remember the day. It came up in two, maybe three meetings that we had with the president. Sometime around the middle of January would seem approximately when the first meeting may have occurred.
LATOURETTE: From the last hearing, we know that the pardon application was filed with the White House on December 11. You don't remember any discussions in the month of December?
LINDSEY: With the president?
LATOURETTE: With the president.
LINDSEY: No, sir, I don't
LATOURETTE: Ms. Nolan, how about you?
NOLAN: No, I don't
LATOURETTE: We're you present at this January 16 meeting that Mr. Podesta was talking about?
NOLAN: I believe I was. Yes, I don't have access to my calendars, either. There were several meetings that week.
LATOURETTE: Mr. Lindsey, at the last hearing -- if you have the book of exhibits in front of you -- at the last hearing, exhibit number 15 in our program is a letter that we talked to Mr. Quinn about at our previous hearing. It's a letter dated December 19, 2000. And it indicates that perhaps while on a trip to Ireland, there was a concern raised -- and it looked like it was raised by you -- about whether or not Marc Rich and Pincus Green were fugitives from justice.
First of all, do you recall having such a conversation with Mr. Quinn in Ireland?
LINDSEY: Yes, I do.
LATOURETTE: And did you express to him your concern of the White House's concern or somebody's concern that these fellows were fugitives from justice and were on the FBI most wanted list? LINDSEY: Well, I don't know I was aware that they were on the FBI most wanted list, but Mr. Quinn had asked me if I had gotten his packet of materials on Mr. Rich and Mr. Green. I told him I had. He asked me what I thought. I told him I thought they were fugitives.
LATOURETTE: This letter of December 19, did you receive it from Mr. Quinn?
LINDSEY: Yes, sir, I did.
LATOURETTE: And it addressed the issue of fugitivity, did it not?
LINDSEY: In a technical sense, yes, sir.
LATOURETTE: And, basically, in that letter, Mr. Quinn is advising you that these fellows really aren't fugitives because they left the country before the indictment was issued?
LINDSEY: That is correct.
LATOURETTE: Do you agree with that definition of fugitivity?
LINDSEY: Probably, from a legal point of view, yes. From a practical point of view, it made no difference to me whether they left before indictment or after indictment.
LATOURETTE: Did you ever discuss with the president of the United States, either in the meeting on January 16 or any other meeting, the concerns about pardoning people who had been 17-year fugitives from justice?
LINDSEY: Yes, sir.
LATOURETTE: And what was the president's reaction, I guess, to that?
LINDSEY: I believe he believed the fugitive status was a factor to be considered, but not the beginning and the end of the conversation. For me, it was both the beginning and the end of the conversation.
BURTON: Would the gentleman yield real briefly?
BURTON: Did anybody in the meeting ask the president if he knew that the study that the president based part of his judgment on was paid for by Mr. Rich and his attorneys?
LINDSEY: I don't think anybody asked him that. I assumed, since it was prepared at their request, that they had paid to have it prepared.
But frankly, I mean, I don't question either of the two professors. I do not believe either of them would say something different than what they believed, just because they were being paid. I don't know them personally, but I accepted their analysis at face value.
BURTON: Did the president know that Mr. Rich paid for that study?
LINDSEY: Again, it was never discussed.
BURTON: Thank you.
LATOURETTE: Ms. Nolan, to you, at our last hearing we had a discussion with Mr. Quinn. He indicates that you, at one point, raised a question about whether the executive order -- talking about the revolving door policy, that a member of the administration can't come back within five years and lobby the administration -- whether or not his involvement in the Rich pardon created a difficulty with that executive order? Do you remember that conversation?
NOLAN: I do remember raising the issue. I think when I first spoke with Mr. Quinn about the pardon, one of the things that concerned me was, was he eligible to represent someone?
LATOURETTE: And again, according to his testimony, he indicated that he allayed those concerns based upon the judicial exception contained therein, in the policy that he wrote, is that right?
NOLAN: He told me that he had obtained a legal opinion that it was permissible for him to represent someone in a pardon application. I nonetheless asked one of my associate counsels to look at the question independently and got the answer back that it did meet the exception.
LATOURETTE: And the exception that we're talking about is the judicial exception, that if there has been a criminal process commenced, it was your feeling that he could come back within a period of less than five years?
NOLAN: That's correct.
LATOURETTE: The reason that I ask that question is, I heard Mr. Quinn say that at the last hearing, you've also seen, I think, in the news, the indication that Hugh Rodham, who is the former-first lady's brother, accepted a $200,000 contingency fee to represent another individual in a pardon application. According to the Code of Ethics for lawyers in the state of Florida, it is improper to take a contingency fee in a criminal matter. One, are you aware of that fact? Are you aware of ethics codes similar to that?
NOLAN: I'm not aware of the Florida rules, but I'm certainly aware of ethics codes similar to that.
LATOURETTE: It's really not appropriate to take a contingency fee in a criminal case to get a desired result. That's the purpose behind the rule, I suppose. My observation is, in that case, at least, the first lady's brother seems to be indicating that that was OK because it's not a criminal matter. But in this particular case, Mr. Quinn's representation is also OK, because it is a criminal matter. And we seem to be, I think, at perhaps cross-purposes.
Going to the meeting of the 16th with the president of the United States, at that meeting, did he ask you to get more information other than the information that was included in Mr. Quinn's submission on behalf of Marc Rich and Pincus Green? Did he ask you to call the Justice Department?
NOLAN: I had already spoken with Mr. Holder. I don't recall that it was an extensive discussion, however. We were going through a number of pardon applications. And my memory is that it was a fairly brief discussion in which he heard, you know, from all of us, our opposition. I didn't think it was going anywhere.
LATOURETTE: When you say, "he heard" -- he, you mean the...
NOLAN: The president.
LATOURETTE: That President Clinton heard your opposition, and you had the feeling at that meeting that it really didn't matter what you said, he was inclined to grant this pardon based upon reasons that he saw in the application and perhaps calls from world leaders? Is that...
NOLAN: No. I don't mean that at all. I did not believe that the pardon was going to go anywhere. He was familiar with it. He was sympathetic to it, and he was familiar with the issues. But I did not have the sense -- he said, you know, "We'll come back to this." I did not have the sense at that meeting or until the 19th, that he really was inclined to grant the pardon.
LATOURETTE: And does that comport with your understanding, Mr. Lindsey and yours, Mr. Podesta, that you left that meeting thinking, yes, he's sympathetic, but this isn't going to happen?
LINDSEY: I clearly left the meeting understanding that no decision had been made. I don't know if I knew what was in his mind.
LATOURETTE: Mr. Podesta?
PODESTA: No, I thought he accepted our judgment. And I didn't think that this was a particularly active matter.
LATOURETTE: Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back to you for further...
BURTON: Mr. Barr?
SHAYS: Good afternoon, gentlemen. Former deputy White House -- and lady, I'm sorry, Ms. Nolan.
NOLAN: Thank you. SHAYS: Former deputy White House counsel Cheryl Mills left the White House in October 1999. It's reported to us by the pardon attorney that when he called the White House late in January...
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Members of former President Clinton's staff in the hot seat today in these pardon hearings before this House committee. We'll take a break. We'll continue our coverage right after this.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
|Back to the top|