Pardongate Play-by-Play

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Clinton accepts a saxophone from Denise Rich at a New York charity ball

Getting a headache from all this convoluted pardon talk? Tired of squinting at news reports, trying to decipher the meaning of the latest sordid developments? Never fear: is here with a handy Pardongate timeline. Check back often for the latest news....

WHITE EXPANDS HER CASELOAD (3/13/01) Justice Department officials report that Attorney General John Ashcroft has asked Manhattan U.S. attorney Mary Jo White to expand her current investigation into some of President Clinton's pardons to include all 177 of the last-minute clemencies and commutations. According to sources, Ashcroft issued the directive in order to "consolidate" the ongoing inquiries.

THE AG ROLLS UP HIS SLEEVES (3/11/01) Saying he is "troubled" by President Clinton's pardons, Attorney General John Ashcroft announces that the Justice Department will review its pardon procedures to ensure that crime victims and federal prosecutors are made aware of pardon or commutation applications. Meanwhile, pledging continued investigations into the pardons, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott says Congress must not "walk away" from the work left to be done.

THE END OF THE ROAD? (3/10/01) House Speaker Dennis Hastert tells CNN the congressional investigation into President Clinton's pardons is "winding down."

OH, BROTHER... (3/08/01) The Los Angeles Times reports that Roger Clinton, the former president's half-brother, is under investigation following allegations that he asked for $15,000 in exchange for help securing a pardon for a Little Rock restaurant owner. Philip David Young reportedly turned down Roger's offer, but was granted a pardon anyway. (None of the people Roger recommended for pardons were granted them).

According to the Times, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White has added Roger's file to her office's ever-expanding pardon probe.

SPECTER STRIKES BACK (3/06/01) Senator Arlen Specter proposes new disclosure guidelines for friends and lawyers who lobby for presidential pardons. The Pennsylvania Republican wants everyone involved in the pardon process to register — and for those records to be made public. This transparency, says Specter, might guard against Marc Rich–like cases in the future.

NOT SO FAST... (3/05/01) The same Clinton aide linked to reports that the former president was considering offers to talk to two Senators about his pardons vehemently denies those reports, saying Clinton is "not considering Senator Specter's request at this time."

CLINTON TETE-A-TETE? (3/04/01) A Clinton aide reportedly says the former president is "considering" an offer to talk privately with two Senators — Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and a yet-unnamed Democrat — about his last-minute pardons.

THE BURTON AND WAXMAN SHOW (3/01/01 [p.m.] Podesta, Nolan and Lindsey testify, along with Jack Quinn, in a very long day before the House Government Reform Committee. During their often contentious exchanges, the witnesses insist there was no quid pro quo between Marc Rich's sponsors and President Clinton — or the President's financial interests. All but Quinn vehemently underscore their personal opposition to the Rich pardon, insisting they never thought the President would grant it. Ongoing appeals on behalf of Marc Rich from outgoing Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, Podesta says, may well have played a decisive role in Clinton's final deliberations.

Reports emerge that Denise Rich is in negotiations with the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office; she may be brokering a deal to tell what she knows about her ex-husband's pardon.

BIG DOINGS ON THE HILL (3/01/01 [a.m.] The House Government Reform Committee prepares to hear testimony from former Clinton aides John Podesta, Beth Nolan and Bruce Lindsey. Democratic fund-raiser Beth Dozoretz appears in person only to take the Fifth.

Republican Senators Arlen Specter and Orrin Hatch write to Clinton asking him to speak to Senate investigators about his last-minute pardons. Specter suggests that if Clinton does agree to sit down and talk, the Senate probe might draw to a close.

Meanwhile, in New York, the Times reports that Hillary's other brother, Tony Rodham, helped obtain presidential pardons for Edgar and Vonna Jo Gregory, carnival owners from Tennessee who were convicted of bank fraud in 1982. Rodham's spokesperson says that while Rodham did ask for the pardons, he never received money from the Gregorys. Rodham has, however, worked as a consultant for Edgar Allen Gregory for about seven years.

Even further north, in Albany, New York, state tax officials announced they are seeking $137 million in back taxes and interest from Marc Rich. According to the terms of his pardon, Rich is not immune from civil charges or penalties.

A VOICE FROM THE PAST (2/28/01 [a.m.]): Former housing secretary Henry Cisneros, who was among those granted last-minute pardons from the former president, tells the Dallas Morning News that Clinton granted his pardon in part to remedy the "extremes" of the independent counsels. Clinton reportedly told Cisneros (who was accused of lying to the FBI about payments he allegedly made to a former mistress) that he suspected the HUD chief was investigated because he was close to Clinton.

DENISE A NO-SHOW? (2/27/01 [p.m.]): Congressional Democrats dispute allegations that Denise Rich (ex-wife of Marc Rich) and DNC fund-raiser Beth Dozoretz visited the White House on the eve of Clinton's last day in office. Sources insist that while both women were cleared by the Secret Service to attend a party held for a staffer that night, neither actually came to the event. The alleged January 19 visit was under intense scrutiny; President Clinton granted Marc Rich's controversial pardon on January 20.

Clinton waives his claim to executive privilege, saying three of his former aides are free to supply Pardongate testimony to Dan Burton's House Government Reform Committee. At the same time, Marc Rich announces that "on the advice of his lawyers" he will not testify before Burton's committee.

Clinton lawyer David Kendall agrees to release the names of 150 people who have donated more than $5,000 to the Clinton library, with the condition that only House Government Reform Committee chairman Dan Burton and ranking Democratic member Henry Waxman will see the actual list.

WHITE HOUSE LOGS (2/27/01 [a.m.]): Unidentified sources say White House logs list last-minute visits by key Pardongate figures Denise Rich and Beth Dozoretz. Secret Service records reportedly show Rich (ex-wife of fugitive financier Marc Rich) and good friend Beth Dozoretz (FOB and DNC powerhouse fund-raiser) arriving at the White House on the evening of January 19 — the day before Clinton granted Marc Rich's controversial pardon. According to White House staffers, Clinton spent most of that night weighing pardon applications. Dozoretz's husband, Ron, insists it is impossible that his wife was at the White House at that time, saying she was with him on a flight to California by 3 p.m. that afternoon. Rich had no immediate comment.

BETH TAKES THE FIFTH ROUTE (2/26/01): Key Pardongate figure Beth Dozoretz informs the House Government Reform Committee that she will take the Fifth if asked to testify in the Marc Rich investigation.

WORKING TOGETHER (2/25/01): Ranking Judiciary Committee member Senator Arlen Specter and Representative Dan Burton announce they are considering combining the Senate and House pardon investigations.

MORE TROUBLE FOR HUGH? (2/24/01): News reports suggest that Hillary Clinton's brother Hugh Rodham, already under the microscope for his involvement in two successful pardon applications, personally asked White House lawyers to consider granting pardons or commutations to Democratic donors Nora and Eugene Lum. The request, if it was in fact made, was fruitless.

Marc Rich speaks out for the first time on the affair, calling his pardon a "humanitarian act."

PARDONS FOR VOTES? (2/23/01): Manhattan U.S. attorney Mary Jo White announces her office is investigating commutations Clinton granted to four Hasidic men from upstate New York, amidst allegations the men promised to generate votes for Hillarys Senate run in exchange for the presidential action. The men, convicted of stealing millions in federal funds, all received clemency, and their Hasidic neighbors, known for usually voting Republican, hand Hillary an overwhelming (statisticians say aberrant) number of votes.

PAYBACK TIME (2/22/01): Press reports link lobbying by Hugh Rodham, Hillary Clinton's brother, to successful pardons for well-connected drug trafficker Carlos Vignali and mail-order scam merchant Glenn Braswell. Rodham was paid a reported $400,000 (including a $200,000 "success fee") for his work. Bill and Hillary express "disappointment" and ask Hugh to return the money. He says he will.

News stories allege that Bill Clinton's brother, Roger, presented the President with a list of 10 friends and associates who applied for pardons or commutations. None of the 10 applications were successful.

Representative Dan Burton, GOP chair of the Government Reform Committee and longtime Clinton foe, fires off a letter to Roger Clinton, asking the infamous former first brother to clarify his involvement at any stage of the pardon process.

JIMMY'S PEEVED (2/21/01): Former president Jimmy Carter calls Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich "disgraceful."

BILL AND THE OLD GRAY LADY (2/18/01): The New York Times publishes a Bill Clinton op-ed piece called "My Reasons for the Pardons." In the column, the former president defends his decision to grant pardons to Marc Rich and his partner Pincus Green, and cites the approval of prominent Republican attorneys Leonard Garment, Bradford Reynolds and Lewis Libby. The three men vehemently deny ever expressing approval for the pardon. A growing number of observers suggest that Clinton's explanation may have done more harm than good.

NEW YORK PROBE (2/15/01): Manhattan U.S. attorney Mary Jo White, in conjunction with the FBI, launches a criminal investigation into all the Clinton pardons.

THE SENATE WEIGHS IN (2/14/01): Pardon hearings begin in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Republican Orrin Hatch.

IMMUNITY CHALLENGE (2/13/01): U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft says he will consider granting Denise Rich immunity if she agrees to testify before congressional panels investigating her ex-husband's pardon. The pressure for immunity later diminishes for fear it could interfere with an investigation by Manhattan U.S. attorney Mary Jo White.

LIBRARY DEPOSIT (2/10/01): Press reports show Denise Rich donated as much as $450,000 to the Clinton library.

E-MAIL TRAIL? (2/08/01): The House Government Reform Committee, headed by Dan Burton, launches hearings into Clinton's last-minute pardons.

E-mails made public at the hearings show Marc Rich's lawyers energetically sought a pardon for their client, even going so far as to discuss approaching Senator Hillary Clinton for help. There is no evidence she responded to any request they may have made.

CONGRATULATIONS ALL ROUND (01/22/01): Rich's onetime lawyer, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, now Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, calls Rich to congratulate him on receiving a pardon.

PARTING BLOT (01/20/01): On his final morning in the White House, President Clinton grants 140 presidential pardons and 36 commutations. Marc Rich, who has been living as a fugitive in Switzerland since his 1983 indictment on tax evasion and fraud, is among those receiving pardons. The voluminous list also names several other controversial figures, including convicted drug trafficker Carlos Vignali and notorious snake oil salesman Glenn Braswell.