Clintons blocking release of pardon papers
posted at 7:20 am on March 7, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
Remember how Barack Obama called Hillary Clinton one of the most secretive politicians in America? That apparently applies to both Hillary and her husband as a team. Archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library have decided to keep the records of Bill’s pardons locked away from prying eyes — such as those of Obama, John McCain, and the media:
Federal archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library are blocking the release of hundreds of pages of White House papers on pardons that the former president approved, including clemency for fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.
That archivists’ decision, based on guidance provided by Bill Clinton that restricts the disclosure of advice he received from aides, prevents public scrutiny of documents that would shed light on how he decided which pardons to approve from among hundreds of requests.
Clinton’s legal agent declined the option of reviewing and releasing the documents that were withheld, said the archivists, who work for the federal government, not the Clintons.
The decision to withhold much of the requested material could provide fodder for critics who say that the former president and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, now seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, have been unwilling to fully release documents to public scrutiny.
Hillary is a curious candidate. She wants to run on her “experience” as First Lady in the Clinton administration — but she wants us to see as little evidence of that experience as possible. In fact, she says that “experience” is so compelling that we would want her in the White House answering the phone at 3 AM when a crisis occurs. If it really is that impressive, why is she and Bill going to such lengths to hide it?
The pardons present a very tricky problem for Hillary. That really does speak to the character of the Clinton administration, and obviously not in glowing terms. In the final days of his administration, Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, who had been a fugitive from American justice for tax evasion and other indictments, apparently because his ex-wife donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the presidential library that now hides those records. The Department of Justice had asked Clinton not to issue a pardon to Rich, as precedent had been not to grant clemency to fugitives, but that didn’t stop Clinton.
Marc Rich demonstrated why the Clintons had such faith in him by proceeding to become a major figure in the Oil-for-Food scandal.
But Rich isn’t the only questionable figure in the pardons scandals, and he’s not the only family member under suspicion. Hillary’s brother Tony Rodham represented Edgar and Vonna Gregory for a pardon, which Bill granted so that Gregory’s business could get federal contracts. Edgar and his wife had convictions for bank fraud that interfered with United Shows, and the Gregorys needed connections. Not only did they hire Rodham to represent them, they donated $10,000 to Hillary Clinton — half before the pardon, and half afterwards, in 2000.
The story doesn’t end there. The Gregorys then made a series of “loans” to Tony Rodham totaling over $100,000, the last of which came right before they declared bankruptcy in 2002, leaving creditors holding the bag once again. Rodham never made a single payment to repay these loans, and the Gregorys never made any attempt to collect them. Only after the United Shows books came under the scrutiny of bankruptcy courts did anyone press Rodham to repay the debt as an asset of United Shows.
The Clintons have plenty of reasons to hide their handiwork on pardons. If they released them, the only way people would want Hillary to answer that phone at 3 AM is if John McCain hired her as a switchboard operator.