05 Jul 2007

Pardon Hillary and Bill

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Michael Goodwin, in the Daily News, takes the occasion of Hillary Clinton’s denunciation of George W. Bush commutation of the Libby prison sentence to do some remembering.

When President Bush commuted Libby’s prison sentence Monday, Sen. Clinton was quick to denounce him. Under Bush, she said, “cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.” …

But when I stumbled on a list of Bill Clinton’s pardons posted on the Drudge Report, I was instantly back on Jan. 20, 2001. That’s when Clinton, in his final hours as President, opened the floodgates, issuing 140 pardons and 36 commutations.

The list of people Clinton let off the hook was a rogue’s gallery of drug dealers, petty criminals and the politically well-connected. One was Bill Clinton’s brother Roger, one was a college friend and another was a former business partner. Their lawyers’ connections were key in others, including the lawyer for a man who laundered more than $100 million for the Cali cartel.

Some cases reeked of blatant corruption. Hillary’s brother, Hugh Rodham, collected $400,000 from two big-time criminals who got pardons. When the news of the payments broke, the Clintons claimed surprise and demanded Rodham give the money back.

But Bill Clinton never gave Denise Rich her money back. The former wife of disgraced financier Marc Rich gave $450,000 to Clinton’s presidential library and raised and contributed more than $1 million to campaigns of the Clintons and other Democrats. Her husband, who had fled the country rather than fight charges of massive tax fraud and trading with Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis, suddenly received a pardon. “Utterly false,” Bill Clinton later said about charges he sold the pardon. “There was absolutely no quid pro quo.”

A friend of mine suggested that the best rejoinder to Hillary would be for the White House to issue a pardon to Hillary and Bill for any of the crimes during his governorship in Arkansas or during the Clinton presidency for which prosecutable evidence may yet one day emerge.

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