Accuracy in Media

In mid-March the House Government Reform Committee released a report on its investigation of Pardongate, the selling of pardons for cash by the Clinton administration in its final days in office. Titled “Justice Undone: Clemency Decisions in the Clinton White House”, the report lays out a devastating case that indeed such transactions were taking place. We could find no news stories on the committee’s report on any of the three major broadcast networks, while the New York Times and Washington Post buried the story about this devastating report deep inside the paper.

The case that was the most controversial was the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. Rich and his partner Pincus Green pled guilty to seventy-eight felony counts and he underreported his taxes by nearly fifty million dollars. Rich and Green were indicted on fifty-one more counts of illegal activity, including tax evasion and racketeering. Rich fled the country, taking subpoenaed documents with him. His ex-wife Denise was involved in the effort to grant him a pardon, and gave about a million and a half dollars combined to the Clinton Library and other Clinton causes.

The brothers of both Bill and Hillary Clinton are strongly implicated in the report as well, and not just for pardon related matters. It details, for example, that Roger Clinton received over $300,000 in traveler’s checks, mostly coming from people in Taiwan and South Korea. He claimed much of this was in exchange for his musical performances. Besides lobbying for pardons, Roger also accepted money from two companies that wanted him to lobby his brother to ease restrictions on dealing with Cuba, though he wasn’t registered as a lobbyist. Shortly before refusing to testify before Burton’s committee, he received fifteen thousand dollars from his brother Bill, who described it as a personal loan to help him get a lawyer.

Hugh Rodham, Hillary’s brother, was taking money and promising access to help get pardons. Two such high profile cases were those of drug kingpin Carlos Vignali, and convicted swindler Glenn Braswell. Rodham received hundreds of thousands of dollars from each, and they were both granted pardons. Rodham was quoted as telling a top White House aide that the pardon for Vignali was “very important” to Hillary.

The Committee’s report points out that Clinton granted a total of 176 pardons and commutations in the final hours of his presidency. It says that in doing so he ignored “almost every applicable standard governing the exercise of the clemency power. It notes that the Marc Rich and Pincus Green cases violate all Justice Department criteria for pardons, as did the Braswell and Vignali cases that were pushed by Hugh Rodham.

The behavior of Clinton, his aides, former aides and his relatives in pushing for clemency for tax-evaders, drug dealers, swindlers and even terrorists is nauseating. The committee recommended that the Justice Department review the actions of Roger Clinton and Tony Rodham, but it also notes that the Bush Justice Department has not been very helpful in this investigation.

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