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Lawyer: Clinton ally won't testify on Rich pardon

Beth Dozoretz
Beth Dozoretz plays golf with President Clinton.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) --- A key figure in the controversy over former President Clinton's last-minute pardons intends to invoke the Fifth Amendment before a House committee investigating the matter, her lawyer said Monday.

Thomas Green, a lawyer for Beth Dozoretz, a Democratic fund-raiser and booster of the Clinton presidential library, said she would invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. He cited the criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney in New York as a reason for declining.

"I am asking that you not require my client to invoke in person her privilege before the committee," the attorney wrote.

The Clinton Years

Rep. Dan Burton, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, said he hopes Dozoretz will change her mind.

"It is my hope that when she comes before the committee on Thursday she will change her mind and answer the committee's questions," Burton said.

Dozoretz is a friend of Denise Rich, the former wife of Marc Rich. He is one of 140 people pardoned by Clinton hours before he left office. He had been listed as an international fugitive by the Justice Department, wanted on tax and fraud charges.

In a related matter, sources familiar with Secret Service records on Monday said Denise Rich visited the White House between 13 and 19 times during the eight years of the Clinton administration. The exact numbers and dates of Denise Rich's visits were not available.

Burton has subpoenaed the Secret Service visitor logs as part of his investigation.

Also Monday, Republican House and Senate leaders said they are not inclined to back a special joint House and Senate investigation into Clinton's controversial pardons.

"I'm inclined to think we wouldn't want to do that," said Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mississippi. "We should have the committees do their work ... complete it and as the president has said, move on."

However, Lott said he has "not had a chance to discuss the idea with those most directly involved."

A spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, told CNN a joint investigation is "not likely" and agreed with Lott that it is time to move on.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, who is heading up the Senate's investigation through the Judiciary Committee, had said Sunday he was open to a joint investigation with the House.

But Lott suggested a criminal probe by a federal prosecutor in New York should take precedence, even as congressional committees proceed with their own investigations.

"The principal focus is in the area the U.S. attorney has identified and that's where the action will and should take place," said Lott.

Although Lott called the spotlight on Clinton a "distraction," he also said it provides "a clear dichotomy" between Clinton and President Bush, their personal lives and their approach to the presidency.

"People are happy he's not going to have problems in his personal life," Lott said of Bush. "On the other hand, he would rather have the focus on the issues ... so it probably cuts both ways."

Lott said that although he wants to "move on," Congress would be derelict in its duty if it did not look at these pardon issues and craft some recommendations short of a constitutional amendment.

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New controversy emerges in Clinton pardons
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Senate Judiciary Committee
House Government Reform Committee

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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