Who's Who, What's What With the Pardon Probes

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Some of the revelations surrounding Bill Clinton's eleventh-hour pardons have fallen under the "Gosh, that's embarrassing" category. Take Hugh Rodham's lobbying effort — and his $400,000 payday after securing two pardons from his brother-in-law. Or even the weekend allegations that Rodham asked White House lawyers about pardons or commutations for Nora and Eugene Lum, a high-powered couple convicted of making illegal campaign contributions to Democrats. (The query, if it was made, was unsuccessful — neither Lum was pardoned).

Hugh's fumblings deal a blow to Hillary's quest for legitimacy, sure, and are redeolent of bad judgment, but probably aren't cause for a criminal investigation. The same goes for the case of the senator's campaign treasurer, William Cunningham III, who apparently helped two pardon seekers prepare their applications. He was paid about $4,000 for his work, and denies any wrongdoing or impropriety.

But some of the news about the Clintons and pardons has gone beyond the embarrassing stage — and into the realm of congressional panels and federal investigations. As the intrigue grows, keep an eye on these arenas....

The House

The House Government Reform Committee, under the leadership of longtime Clinton foe Dan Burton, began official hearings into the Marc Rich pardon on February 8. Since then, the committee has subpoenaed nearly everyone and everything involved in the Rich case — from ex-wife Denise Rich, who took the Fifth, to contribution records for the Clinton Library Foundation, which have been slow to emerge from behind a stubborn stonewall.

Thursday, Burton shot off a letter of inquiry to infamous former first brother Roger Clinton, asking him to explain his involvement in several pardons and commutations, despite insistence from Bill Clinton that Roger played no significant role in the pardon process. Sure, Roger submitted a list of 10 friends and associates, and asked that they all be considered for pardons or commutations, but none of them actually got any good news on January 20. "The committee has received reports that you were involved in representing individuals seeking pardons from President Clinton," Burton wrote. Burton hopes to have Clinton's response before the next round of hearings, scheduled for March 1. Burton's committee could soon have a helping hand from across the Capitol: Sunday, Burton and Republican Senator Arlen Specter suggested they were considering the formation of a joint House-Senate investigative effort.

The Senate

Orrin Hatch's Judiciary Committee launched its Marc Rich hearings on Valentine's Day. The senators plowed through testimony from Rich lawyer Jack Quinn, former U.S. pardon attorney Roger Adams and former deputy attorney general Eric Holder. The heavyweights were joined by legions of legal experts, who mulled over potential procedural misconduct inherent in Clinton's last-minute pardons. No further hearings are scheduled at this time. Does that mean it's all over? Friday afternoon, TIME.com asked one Patrick Leahy staffer that very same question. "Oh, no," he said. "Definitely not."

The Feds

Manhattan U.S. attorney Mary Jo White announced Friday that her office is investigating the commutations Clinton granted to four Hasidic men from upstate New York, amidst allegations the men promised to generate votes for Hillary Clinton's Senate run in exchange for the presidential action. The men, convicted of stealing millions in federal funds, all received clemency. Investigators say they know lawyers for the men met with both President Clinton and Senator-elect Clinton after the election — but it's pre-election contact everyone's interested in. Both Clintons deny any quid pro quo; Hillary told reporters in January that she "did not play any role whatsoever" in the discussions. "I had no opinion about it."

White's office, in partnership with the FBI, has already dedicated a full week to a probe of all the presidential pardons — including, but not limited to, the Marc Rich debacle. That investigation began February 15 — and no one expects a sprint to the finish.