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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Clinton unlikely to act on resolution condemning clemency

Senate Judiciary plans to subpoena administration officials

September 15, 1999
Web posted at: 6:39 p.m. EDT (2239 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Setting up a new clash with the White House, the Senate Judiciary Committee will subpoena documents and administration witnesses in its investigation of the Puerto Rico clemency case, Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the panel, said Wednesday.

"This committee is a bipartisan committee that's not going to be stiffed. Frankly we're just sick and tired of it," he said.

The House Government Reform Committee has already issued subpoenas for the clemency documents but has received no response. The House committee raised the stakes this week, subpoenaing officials at the White House, the Justice Department, FBI and Bureau of Prisons to testify.

Committee spokesman Mark Corallo said if the government witnesses failed to appear at the House hearing contempt charges would be pursued.

White House counsel's office spokesman Jim Kennedy said the subpoenas were being evaluated. "We hope to have a response as soon as possible," he said.

At Hatch's hearing Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli, of New Jersey, who was instrumental in pushing forward Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate bid in New York, leveled his harshest criticism yet at the president. "I regret greatly the actions of President Clinton," Torricelli said. "I hope the committee will learn more about his motivations and the process so that it's never repeated."

Administration officials have said that the clemency issue is the president's alone to decide and, so far, have resisted congressional calls for testimony or documents. That posture has not sat well with Congress -- even among Democrats.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a resolution, 95-2, condemning the president for offering the clemency. The White House said Tuesday that Clinton is unlikely to sign or veto the resolution once it reaches his desk, but will allow it to become official by taking no action over the required 10 days.

Before Tuesday's vote, Democrats negotiated with Republicans to strike language they considered too abrasive, but they did not spare Clinton from criticism.

Although he called the resolution "nothing more than a political document," Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle led the way for Democrats to vote for the resolution.

"I support the president's authority to make decisions with regard to clemency and pardons. That is a president's right," said Daschle, "But I must say I am troubled deeply by the lack of remorse, the lack of empathy for the victims on the part of the Puerto Ricans themselves. And based upon that, I intend to vote in favor of the resolution."

Two Democrats, Sens. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota and Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, voted against the resolution.

The Senate version differs from what the House passed last week in that it is a joint resolution, which means it must go back to the House and, if passed, will eventually be sent to the president.

The resolution calls the release of the terrorists an "affront to the rule of the law, the victims and their families."

"The President made a terrible mistake in releasing these terrorists. It comes at a terrible time," said Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) "It sends a bad message to terrorists all over the world."

Ninety-three Democrats voted for a similar resolution in the House last week, which passed 311-41.

Sens. Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire) John McCain (R-Arizona) and Bob Graham (D-Florida) did not vote.


Senate condemns Clinton for FALN clemency (9-14-99)

White House refuses to cooperate with inquiry on clemency offer (9-13-99)


Wednesday, September 15, 1999

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