Burton ready to examine Clinton pardons
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- He may have left the White House, but Bill Clinton has not left behind a major nemesis during his presidential years -- Dan Burton.
"If everything was done according to Hoyle, so to speak, then I wish the former president Bill Clinton well in the future and hope he is successful in whatever he undertakes," Burton said recently.
But that won't happen before Burton's House Government Reform Committee gears up questions Thursday about the Clinton pardons -- specifically, the pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.
"I did what I thought was right and I still think that on balance it was the right decision," Clinton explained when asked about the pardon earlier this month.
Rich, a billionaire commodities trader, was accused of massive tax fraud and illegal trading with Iran. After he was indicted in 1983, he fled the United States and has enjoyed a lavish lifestyle in Switzerland, immune from extradition.
Clinton pardoned him after a direct appeal from Rich's lawyer, former White House counsel Jack Quinn. Critics charge Quinn took advantage of his personal Clinton connection. He's Witness No. 1 before the committee.
"I worked very hard on this over a period of two years, and in the end I think I persuaded not just the president, but a good many other people that this was really an indictment that shouldn't stand," Quinn said last month.
Quinn said he consulted with the Justice Department through Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, who will also appear before the committee.
Rich was targeted by investigators working in New York for then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani. The prosecutors in the case are expected to deny before the committee the claim by Rich they were overzealous.
"He made $100 million worth of illegal profit on some oil deals. He set up a second set of books. He parked the profit on some other company's books, he laundered them out of the United States and he evaded $48 million in taxes," former federal prosecutor Morris Weinberg said.
Rich has refused to return to the United States for 17 years. His ex-wife did return; Denise Rich became a million-dollar donor to the Democratic Party and made contributions to the Clintons. She wrote a letter to the president, supporting a pardon for her ex-husband.
"I want to find out if there was a quid pro quo," Burton said. "I'm not saying there was. If there wasn't -- OK."
The president's name is now Bush. Bill Clinton has left but he's left behind the new controversies, and Dan Burton is not ready to let go.
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