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The BBC's Nick Bryant
"Congress has launched a probe into other pardons granted by Bill Clinton"
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Washington WTOP station's Dave McConnel
"While these stories continue, the Democrats cannot... focus on their agenda"
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Saturday, 24 February, 2001, 12:47 GMT
Hillary dragged into pardons inquiry
Hillary Clinton launches her Senate bid in 2000
Mr Clinton is accused of 'buying' support for his wife
US Senator Hillary Clinton has for the first time been pulled into the pardons scandal overshadowing her husband's departure from the White House last month.

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Bill Clinton commuted the jail sentences of four leaders of a New York Hasidic Jewish community in return for support for his wife Hillary in senate elections last year.

The four Orthodox Jews had been serving sentences of up to six-and-a-half years for stealing over $30m in government funds.

Mr Clinton commuted their sentences to a maximum of 30 months.

The New Square community voted overwhelmingly in favour of Mrs Clinton in November's senate election, when she beat Republican Rick Lazio.

Hillary denial

Senator Clinton has said she had played no role in the granting of the pardons, and held no opinions on the matter.

Bill Clinton
Clinton: Unprecedented pardons in the last days of his presidency
The Washington Post reports that she did, however, take part in a White House meeting with the leader of the community, who was lobbying for the pardons.

Family affairs

The Senate and a federal attorney are carrying out two separate investigations of Bill Clinton's 140 pardons and 36 reductions in sentence on his last day in office - an action unprecedented in modern American history.

The scandal deepened this week when Mrs Clinton's brother Hugh Rodham admitted accepting nearly $400,000 to lobby for two men who received pardons.

Hugh Rodham
Hugh Rodham has returned nearly $400,000
The Clintons said they were unaware that Mr Rodham, a Miami lawyer, had taken money for his actions, and demanded that he return it.

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

Roger Clinton upset

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.

Former US President Bill Clinton's half-brother Roger with his son
Roger Clinton has also become embroiled in the pardons affair
It has also emerged that Mr Clinton's half-brother had Roger lobbied the former president for pardons.

But these were not granted and Roger Clinton told the Los Angeles Times that he was so angry that he did not talk to his brother for two weeks.

"It sort of caused a rift," he was quoted as saying. "I couldn't understand why none of my requests for pardons for my friends were granted. I thought they all deserved it."

Roger Clinton says he was not paid to intervene with the former president.

But Congressional investigators looking into Mr Clinton's pardons on his last day in office have added Roger Clinton - who himself received a pardon for a 1985 cocaine offence - to their inquiry.

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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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