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Grand Jury Casts Eye Toward Roger Clinton and Presidential Pardons

Aired June 19, 2001 - 12:30   ET


ROGER COSSACK, CO-HOST: Today on BURDEN OF PROOF: A grand jury investigation into presidential pardons casts its eyes on the former president's brother and an alleged scheme to sell passports and pardons.


JAY ETHINGTON, ATTORNEY FOR RICHARD CAYCE: If a fee was paid, efforts would be made to acquire a passport of preferential nature and also a pardon. And it was most likely that the pardon and the passport would be forthcoming. We didn't get either the passport or the pardon. We didn't even get a cigar.

EDWARD HAYES, ATTORNEY FOR GARLAND LINCECUM: Morton and Locke told him that if he gave them $300,000 that Bill Clinton could get him a pardon.


ANNOUNCER: This is BURDEN OF PROOF, with Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack.

COSSACK: Hello and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF.

A grand jury in New York is hearing testimony about Roger Clinton's alleged involvement in a scheme to sell diplomatic passports and pardons.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CO-HOST: The investigation surrounds a company called C.L.M. Roger Clinton's lawyer says he made appearances for the company and consulted on importing building products. And in the two matters brought before the grand jury, neither a passport nor a pardon was granted.


HAYES: I mean, right now, it appears that what they did was, they promised the guy a pardon, took a lot of money from his family, and then didn't deliver the pardon, and now deny that that was what the money was for. I don't think that that denial is credible. And, as a result, since they made this ridiculous explanation as to why they took 200 grand or $235,000 from his family, it makes you think that they probably did originally promise them something that they knew they could not deliver.


COSSACK: Joining us today from Miami is Mark Geragos, who represents Roger Clinton in an unrelated case. From New York, we're joined by Jonathan Polkes, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here in Washington: Jake Wobig (ph), Kristi Hayek (ph) and Joel Erendreich -- in the back: Justin Buel (ph), Miya Walter (ph) and Betsy Garbacz (ph).

Also joining us here in Washington is CNN correspondent Eileen O'Connor.

Eileen, first to you. Set the stage. What is this investigation about?

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, it's two sides, Greta.

And the disagreement is over the subject of meetings. Basically, one side, you have Richard Cayce and Garland Lincecum, who say that they handed over some $235,000 to Roger Clinton and C.L.M. for passports -- diplomatic passports -- and a pardon for Garland Lincecum, who had been convicted on fraud.

And on the other side, you have Roger Clinton; you have Dickey Morton, who is a friend of his; and George Locke. And they say that, yes, they met with these people. Yes, they took money. But they say the money was for work for a charitable organization that was associated with this Mr. Cayce, who is a Texan businessman. And that's where the dispute lies.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, identify two things for me: What is the occupation or the business of C.L.M.? And what is this charitable organization that the Clinton side says existed?

O'CONNOR: Well, Roger Clinton says that he is not involved in C.L.M. But Locke and Morton disagree. They say that this was company was established -- Clinton, Locke and Morton is what the -- they say that the letters represent -- to do business deals, to basically -- to import things and do business with China, specifically.

And they also say that in this particular situation, what they were doing was making representations to the charitable foundation for Richard Cayce. They had been asked by Cayce to perhaps help have Roger Clinton be a spokesperson for that charitable organization -- or those kind of deals.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what is this charitable organization, though, that this Mr. Cayce has? I mean, is there some sort of legitimate organization that he has?

O'CONNOR: Well, there was an organization that he was trying to set up called the Legacy Foundation. And what it was supposed to do was have -- it was a way to sell some tax-exempt bonds for this charitable organization. And he says that he wanted Roger Clinton to be involved in this and that what he came to them for was to get some diplomatic passports for himself and for another member, a CEO of this.

Now, on the other side, C.L.M. says no, that's not true. They say what Roger -- what Richard Cayce came to them for was to have Roger Clinton be a spokesperson for this charity.

COSSACK: Eileen, let me just jump in here a second. Is the claim that -- is the claim made that Roger Clinton actually was present when the $235,000 was given, and that he actually took that money or took part of that money or was there when it was given?

O'CONNOR: The claim is made that Roger Clinton was present in the room in a meeting at which diplomatic passports were discusses, and at which $30,000 in cash was handed over. Roger Clinton does not dispute that. He does dispute that diplomatic passports was discussed. But he does say there was a meeting and $35,000 was handed over, and he got some $10,000 of that.

Roger Clinton says he doesn't know about the $200,000. But I also have copies of two canceled checks to C.L.M. that were deposited in C.L.M.'s account. Locke and Morton say that they did get money. But they say, again, that that money for C.L.M. was for charitable work, for work related to this charity of Richard Cayce's, not for anything else.

They also -- by the way, Roger Clinton says that he didn't know about that $200,000, just to make that clear.

COSSACK: All right. Joining us now by telephone is Edward Hayes, who is the attorney for Gerald Lincecum (sic).

Ed, what exactly, what role did your client play here? As I understand it, your client went to this company; your client was convicted of fraud; had a seven-year prison sentence that he was looking in the face, and he was trying to get a pardon.

HAYES: That's right.

He was basically a 64-year-old man. He was convicted of a fraud. He knew Richard Cayce. Richey Cayce told him that he could introduce him to Morton and Locke, that Morton and Locke were in business with Roger Clinton, that Locke and Roger Clinton had been in jail together; they had been cell mates; and that Roger Clinton had a certain number of pardons to sell; that he had been guaranteed a certain number of pardons by his brother.

Lincecum -- Cayce met with Roger Clinton, Locke and Morton, gave them the cash for a diplomatic passport, discussed the pardon. They said they could get a pardon. And then Garland Lincecum met with Morton and Locke in the lobby of a hotel at Dallas. Roger Clinton was on the mezzanine so that he could be seen during the course of the meeting, which I think was a way to indicate his involvement. And then, subsequently, Garland's mother -- who is in her 80s -- raised $100,000 from her pension fund.

And, Guy, his brother -- neither one of whom has ever had any problems with the law -- raised $100,000 from his savings. And they flew down. His brother flew down and gave the money to Morton, had numerous meetings and conversations with Morton, where Morton said, "Don't worry about it. Roger can get his brother to give Garland Lincecum a pardon."

VAN SUSTEREN: All right.

Eileen, let me go back to you a second on this C.L.M. I'm still a little confused. One side says "C." stands for Clinton. Is this Cayce -- is that a possibility for this "C." or is there some...

HAYES: No, he spells his name with a "K," Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, well, that solves that. And it's not K.L.M. That would be an airline.


VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me go to Jonathan.

Jonathan, selling pardons would clearly -- if he did that -- would clearly, in my mind, be a crime. Diplomatic passports, for some reason, I think, unless you are diplomat, you are not supposed to have a diplomatic passport is. Is that right? Do business people have diplomatic passports? Any legitimate reason?

JONATHAN POLKES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Not that I know of. And, in fact, I was wondering if Mr. Hayes would explain why, in his own client's version of events, they are trying to pay money to buy diplomatic passports.

COSSACK: Well, I mean, let me go to Edward Hayes for a second.

Mr. Hayes, what do you consider to be the crime here? Is the crime here that your client was defrauded because there never was any attempt or any ability to get either one of these documents: either the passport or the pardon? Or do you think the crime is that he didn't get it?

HAYES: ... the passport. OK. So let's take that out of the equation. The -- it would be a crime if you say to somebody, "I promise you, if you give me money, I will get you a pardon." And when you say that, you know it is not true and you do nothing to effectuate that end, that would be a crime.

COSSACK: OK, you see this more as a fraud, in the sense that these people never had the ability to go and get these things.

HAYES: Unless -- unless -- and, I mean, I'm just speculating. I don't want to pretend that I'm not speculating. Unless Locke and Roger Clinton and Lassiter and Morton, who go way back with the president, have some kind relationship with the president, where there is some sharing of benefits, and therefore they're sure that they can influence him.

That would be almost like a bribery of the president. But I don't know if that -- I have no reason to believe that's true. So in the absence of that, it would be -- if it is a crime, it would be a fraud. I can't imagine that Bill Clinton is going to testify against Roger Clinton.

I mean, Bill Clinton's father died before he was born. Roger Clinton has had a very troubled life. I'm sure Bill Clinton feels very paternally towards him and feels very bad that the man has a drug problem. I just don't -- if you're asking me what I think, I think it would be very difficult and probably impossible to make a case against Roger without the president's cooperation. I just don't think he will turn on his brother.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, we're very lucky because guess who we have joining us in the next block? We'll be right back and you'll hear from Mark Geragos.


HAYES: Whether or not they ever actually did anything to try and get pardons for Lincecum or get diplomatic passports for Cayce, I don't know anything about that. I would -- I know that Roger Clinton doesn't seem to have a job, and he does seem to have a house and a family and a car that he supports. He has to have some source of income. So, I would assume that the only income that he has is based on his ability to go to his brother.



Two Colorado therapists were sentenced to 16 years in prison Monday for the death of 10-year-old Candace Newmaker, who died during a "rebirthing" therapy session.




HAYES: My client says he paid money upon the guarantee of getting a pardon and didn't get it, and I don't think -- I think that look, my client's not an angel. It's his second felony conviction, but his mother is 82. His brother is in his 60s. They've never had any problems with the law.

JAY ETHINGTON, ATTORNEY FOR RICHARD CAYCE: Representations were made by C.L.M. or Clinton, Locke & Morton regarding their access and influence that they could assert on the president.


VAN SUSTEREN: A federal grand jury in New York is investigating an alleged scheme involving Roger Clinton. And let me just correct myself -- Ed Hayes that we have some documents that says Cayce is with a C. So, the mystery continues. It's not Cossack.

COSSACK: I was just waiting to be involved in this one.

VAN SUSTEREN: I know. Let me go to Mark Geragos. Mark, I don't mean to be flippant about such a serious investigation, I've seen you pull a lot of rabbits out of hats, but this looks leak a tough case for your client. I know you represent him on other charges, but what do you do in this situation?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I didn't know you have to do all that much, Greta. I don't represent him, as you said, but if you took a look at and listen to what Mr. Hayes just said, basically he that says his client, a twice-convicted felon, has told him something that somebody else told him that somebody else told him, who saw Roger Clinton standing on a mezzanine. So so far, that's, I think, quadruple hearsay mixed in with a mezzanine sighting of...

VAN SUSTEREN: Here's the problem I have, though...

GERAGOS: ... which doesn't really -- I don't think that there's so much of a problem here for Roger Clinton. I don't think that they're going to be worried too much about what's going on here. It sounds to me like somebody is disgruntled is trying to get a...


COSSACK: You know, Mark Geragos is going to have him getting a medal and an apology soon.

VAN SUSTEREN: I know. Mark, here is the problem that you have is that that may be a wonderful argument at trial, but the problem is before you get to trial, you run the risk of indictment. You've got one side being presented to grand jurors, because Roger Clinton is unlikely -- I can't imagine a lawyer putting a client in a grand jury situation. They're going to come in and say they got swindled out of all this money for these diplomatic passports, for pardons. We got completely swindled, you get the indictment; now your client is slapped with an indictment and you may win down the road because you have triple hearsay, but boy, what a mess, Mark.

GERAGOS: Yes, but at the same time, you do have to ask the question that the former federal prosecutor on your show just asked is, why is this twice-convicted felon out there through his lawyer trying to buy diplomatic passports, and what kind of sense does that make when the guy is in prison...


VAN SUSTEREN: But that doesn't stop the grand jury.

GERAGOS: ... is that to give him -- I mean, some of those grand jurors are going to say to themselves, wait a second. This guy needs a diplomatic passport so he can get from Marion to Leavenworth? Or is there some sort of... COSSACK: All right, let's go -- let me go to Jonathan Polkes on this. Jonathan, Mark brings up an interesting point. One if the difficulty in proving this case. The second thing of it is -- question is what exactly -- is it against the law -- would it be against the law for me to say, listen I can get you a pardon? Obviously, that would be a fraud on my part. But is it against the law if I could get you a pardon?

POLKES: Well, there's another question -- if you could get him a pardon and you were going to be selling him the right to that, there'd be the federal bribery crime, which is what people were worried about Bill Clinton's involvement before.

The fraud is the real issue here, but you raise an interesting question, which is the propriety. The U.S. attorney has to ask themselves whether this is even an appropriate case for the federal government to be intervening, to bring its weight to bear to help create some rough justice. I mean, it sounds to me like even if all this stuff is true, you've got one set of people who were trying to purchase diplomatic passports and purchase immunity, which would illegal; you've got another set of people who are purporting to be able to sell these things.

I mean, you've two groups of con men dealing with each other. Is this the kind of case where the United States government ought to be involving itself at all.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what, I've got to tell you, Jonathan, maybe you guys have different prosecutors dealt with than I have, but I don't think a prosecutor would blink at a case like this in terms of if there is one side coming in saying I've been swindled and you've got a high-profile...

COSSACK: The only problem is, and I agree -- you know what, I do agree with you in terms of what...

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you.

COSSACK: ... prosecutors do, but the problem here is can you end up -- imagine having to prosecute this and who your witnesses are going to be.

VAN SUSTEREN: But let me go back to Eileen. Eileen, you have these checks, these -- you might have some witnesses that are unsavory and have lots of materials in terms of cross-examination and credibility, but these checks. What do these checks tell us, just that money went to C.L.M.?

O'CONNOR: It does, and really, Greta, they don't say much more because you know, C.L.M. says that they did take money. But again -- so, the checks don't necessarily prove anything because the problem is the crux of the issue in this he said/he said is that one side says it was for passports and a pardon, the other side says no, it was work for this charitable organization. They said that Roger Clinton was potentially going to be the spokesperson for that organization. VAN SUSTEREN: Take me back a little bit. I'm still fixated on this C.L.M., K.L.M., whatever we finally decide, is that does this company have a history of producing some product? I mean, does it go back 10, 15 years? Is this a business that actually exists and has a service?

O'CONNOR: No, it's only a few years old, and it was incorporated -- it was incorporated in -- the papers were filed with the secretary of state in Arkansas, and they were filed, I believe, in like 1996. I have to check on that difficult. It was only a few years old, and basically it was set up -- Roger Clinton does say that he talked to e and Morton about setting up a company, but he didn't realize they'd actually set it up, and it was set up to help do business with China, to do import deals, and also to perhaps represent Roger Clinton for appearances and things like that.

And these were three friends who knew each other. Locke and Morton say that Clinton did know that this was set up, and by the way, we did say that Roger Clinton admits taking $10,000 in cash; he also took three checks totaling $25,000 from C.L.M. around the time that these checks were deposited in C.L.M. account. But he says that he didn't understand that C.L.M. meant Clinton, Locke and Morton, he just knew that it was this business set up by his friend.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think it's Cossack. I'm convinced it's Cossack.

COSSACK: Sounds perfectly legitimate to me. Let's take a break. The former first brother has a history of trouble with the law. How will Roger Clinton's past impact the future of Mary Jo White's investigation? Stay with us.


Q: A report by the U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crime Enforcement Network found what crime to be on the rise?

A: Identity theft.



COSSACK: Roger Clinton is under scrutiny from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, for his alleged involvement in an effort to secure diplomatic passports and pardons for clients. This is not the first time the former first brother has faced trouble with the law.

Let me ask you this: In term of going ahead and prosecuting this case, you've brought up an interesting point, that you've got two groups, both seeming a little unsavory. The fact that Clinton has a past that was pardoned by his brother -- for a cocaine conviction -- would that play any role in whether or not this prosecution is brought?

POLKES: At the end of the day, I think I agree with both you and Greta, that, in all likelihood, this is a case that is just too good to resist, in a sense, because it's related to other high-profile investigations. The important thing is this case is really very distinct from the guts of what the U.S. Attorney's Office is investigating, which is whether or not Clinton himself was involved in any exchange of pardons for money.

So at the end of the day, I don't think that the prior cocaine pardon is going to figure into it. I think the government's going to have to decide whether or not this is an appropriate use of their resources, but probably, at the end of the day, this is something that's worth their doing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, if your client weren't the brother of the former president, what, in your experience, would happen to a case like this?

GERAGOS: Well, I'll just speak for my experience with the case out on the West Coast: It never would have been filed; he never would have been pulled over. He, unfortunately, has to live with that fact that if his name were Roger McClintock, he wouldn't be looking at any of these charges, nobody would be sighting him on mezzanines, nobody would be pulling him over in Hermosa Beach.

COSSACK: What about the fact that he took some money?

VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, another thing too is that if it were just a pardon, it would be less a problem, but you have diplomatic passports. When you start adding all this stuff together, it really is too good for a prosecutor to look the other way.

GERAGOS: Actually, I'd look at it as the complete opposite: It's so ludicrous on its face that I think most prosecutors would say we're not going to follow through with this. You're talking about people who are almost laughable in what they're saying that they're going to try to get. When this guy says he wants to obtain a diplomatic passport while he's sitting in custody in a federal prison, don't you just have to say to yourself, What in the heck are we talking about here?

VAN SUSTEREN: I'll give you that one, but the business about the pardons because Roger did -- I think Roger himself has admitted that he tried, unsuccessfully, to get pardons for some of his friends

GERAGOS: But not for this guy.


GERAGOS: Not for Lincecum.


GERAGOS: Which takes you back to if there really is something here. If this gentleman, this so-called lawyer, who's making all these fantastic claims really thought his client was defrauded, why hasn't he sued? Where's the civil lawsuit? He doesn't have to go beyond a reasonable doubt; all he's got to do is come up with a preponderance of the evidence. Why hasn't he sued to get his money back?

COSSACK: Mark, probably because that civil lawsuit's going to look a lot better after this criminal indictment comes down.

GERAGOS: He may have to worry about that statute of limitations problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, it's never dull.

That's all the time we air for today. Thanks to our guests, and thank you for watching.



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