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The BBC's Nick Bryant
"Congress has launched a probe into other pardons granted by Bill Clinton"
 real 56k

Hillary Clinton
"As soon as I found out I was very upset"
 real 56k

The BBC's Rob Watson
"Once again the men in her life have put her on the defensive"
 real 28k

Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 20:33 GMT
Hillary 'shocked' over pardon scandal
Hillary Clinton
Mrs Clinton distanced herself from the scandal
Hillary Clinton has spoken of her "shock and disappointment" at revelations that her brother received a payment of $400,000 to lobby on behalf of two men pardoned by her husband.


I was very disappointed and saddened by this whole matter

Hillary Clinton
Mrs Clinton told a news conference that she had nothing to do with the issuing of pardons. She said she had not spoken to her brother since the disclosure - and did not want to.

The affair has heightened the outcry over the pardons made on Bill Clinton's last day in office. Separate Senate and federal investigations into the pardons have already begun.

In a statement, the former president said that he and his wife were unaware of the payments made to Hugh Rodham, a Miami attorney and former US Senate candidate.

He said they had asked Mr Rodham to return the money and were "deeply disturbed" by what had happened.

Mr Rodham, who denies wrongdoing, has returned the money, his lawyer said.

Incomplete denial

However, Mr Clinton's statement stopped short of saying that he never discussed the cases with his brother-in-law.

Hugh Rodham and Bill Clinton
Mr Clinton says he knew nothing of the payments to Hugh Rodham (left)
Mr Rodham reportedly received the payment for months of work in securing a reduced sentence for Carlos Vignali, a convicted drug trafficker, and a pardon for Almon Glenn Braswell, a businessman guilty of fraud.

Vignali himself was said to have been stunned by the commutation of his sentence after he served six years of a 15-year sentence for conspiring to sell 800 lbs (360 kg) of cocaine.

Federal lawyers who prosecuted the original case opposed the presidential clemency. The Roman Catholic Cardinal of Los Angeles, a sheriff and other community leaders were in favour.

Vignali's father, Horacio Vignali, is a major contributor to Mr Clinton's Democratic Party.

Allegations

Braswell, described as a Miami businessman, was pardoned for a 1983 mail fraud conviction. He served three years in jail.

Uncomfortable exit
Controversial pardons for financier Marc Rich, cocaine dealer Carlos Vignali and fraudster Glenn Braswell
Removal of White House furnishings, some of which were later returned
Outcry over expense of planned Clinton office space in Manhattan, later abandoned
Statement by financial firm Morgan Stanley that it "clearly made a mistake" by asking Mr Clinton to speak at a conference
His pardon on 20 January has generated particular controversy because it then emerged that he was under investigation in connection with new allegations.

Mr Clinton has said the pardon was only intended to apply to the 1983 conviction, and that he was unaware there was a new investigation under way.

The 140 pardons and 36 commutations granted by Mr Clinton just hours before leaving office have been fiercely criticised by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Until now, the main focus of the row has been the pardon granted to the fugitive billionaire Marc Rich, who was indicted in 1983 on charges of tax evasion and making illegal oil deals with Iran.

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See also:

21 Feb 01 | Americas
Carter blasts Rich pardon
18 Feb 01 | Americas
Clinton defends controversial pardon
15 Feb 01 | Americas
Clinton faces criminal inquiry
14 Feb 01 | Americas
Senate probes Clinton pardons
26 Jan 01 | Americas
Clinton gifts under scrutiny
22 Feb 01 | Americas
Clinton pardons: Cast of characters
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