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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 18:29 GMT
Senate probes Clinton pardons
Bill Clinton in Harlem
Clinton continues to be the centre of attention
Members of former President Bill Clinton's own Democrat Party have openly criticised his pardon of the indicted billionaire Marc Rich.


The pardoning of fugitives stands our criminal justice system on its head

Democrat senator Charles Schumer
Their criticisms came as a Senate Judiciary Committee heard that the White House did not inform the lawyer in charge of pardons that Mr Rich was a fugitive from US justice.

Addressing the hearing, lawyer Roger Adams said that in a midnight phone call on Mr Clinton's last day in office, the White House legal team did not mention that Mr Rich was wanted in the US.

Billionaire businessman Marc Rich
Marc Rich: faced more than 50 charges
Controversy continues to swirl around Mr Clinton following his last-minute pardons, as well as his decision to remove furniture and gifts from the White House.

In the last few hours of his presidency, Mr Clinton, using the absolute power granted him by the US constitution, pardoned more than 100 people.

Donations

The Senate hearing is reviewing whether Mr Clinton followed correct procedure.


None of the regular procedures were followed

Roger Adams, US pardons lawyer
There have been claims that Mr Rich was absolved in return for donations to the Democrat Party by the financier's former wife, Denise.

Mr Rich, who currently lives in Switzerland, was indicted for massive tax evasion, racketeering and illegally trading with Iran.

The House Government Reform Committee, which is also conducting an investigation, has subpoenaed Denise Rich's bank records to check if the funds in fact came illegally from Mr Rich.

During Wednesday's hearing, Republican Senator Arlen Specter asked Mr Adams whether he had been told about the fugitive status of Mr Rich.

"I was not told," Mr Adams replied. " I learned that from the FBI".

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20 Jan 01 | Americas
Clinton pardons 100
26 Jan 01 | Americas
Clinton gifts under scrutiny
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