Marc Rich & Congressional Hearings. Why?

Ok…to set the stage:

  • Marc Rich is a scumbag who almost certainly deserves to be in jail.

  • President Clinton is a scumbag for pardoning a scumbag.

  • President Clinton almost certainly pardoned him as a favor to a very large campaign donor.

  • There is not one damn thing congress or anyone else can do about Marc Rich getting a ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card’. He’s simply off the hook.

All of the above points seem without doubt. At least I haven’t heard anyone seriously dispute them…even the ‘liberal’ media or President Clinton himself.

So why is Congress wasting time and money looking into this with special hearings? They absolutely cannot undo a Presidential pardon. Period. End of story no matter how much you hate what was done.

At this point it seems that a statement for the public record of how much you despise this action should be enough and then get on with running the country. The rest seems like little more than throwing a tantrum to little effect.

What am I missing?


I am not a Clinton fan, but it seems like it is more influence peddling than bribery. And if it was bribery, it would be up to the Justice Department to prosecute, not Congress. Congress should drop the issue. Neither side wants to see Congress put limits or restrictions on the Presidential pardon process

Your point #4 is, I believe, definitely the case.

Now, if point #3 is also the case (and, as much as we may be sure, in our hearts of hearts, that the jerk^H^H^H^H former President is guilty, it is considered a Good Thing is have some suggestive evidence before handing out indictments), then Clinton may be subject to either impeachment (yes, even though he’s out of office) or legal action. In addition to a healthy helping of politically-motivated spitefulness (which, of course, never happened prior to 1995 :rolleyes: ), this is the idea behind Congressional investigations.

Jeff_42 asks,“So, why is Congress wasting time and money looking into this with special hearings? They absolutely cannot undo a Presidential pardon. Period. End of story no matter how much you hate what was done.”

My answer is to look at the future. It’s tempting to ignore corrupt behavior, because it’s tawdry and unpleasant, but doing so just invites more corruption. The power to pardon has no Constitutional check or balance, so it’s particularly important that it not be misused. We certainly don’t want GW Bush or any future President be selling Get Out Of Jail Free cards to criminals. The same goes for thosse state governors who have pardon power.

The first step is to find out the facts, which is what Congress is trying to do. There is a subtle difference between taking a bribe vs. rewarding a supporter. The former is illegal; the latter is corrupt. It seems clear that Clinton did one or the other.

Although I think that it would be very difficult to convict Clinton of taking a bribe, it might not be impossible. The large amount of of money involved, the secrecy, and the decision to ignore normal procedure would be evidence against him. At the very least, he should be held up to public censure, as a warning to future Presidents.

BTW, Jeff_42 said that even Bill Clinton didin’t dispute his points. Actually Clinton was quoted as saying that there was absolutely nothing political about the pardons.

Akatsukami says that it may be possible to impeach Clinton even out of office. I have heard Senator Arlen Specter quote an unnamed lawyer making this contention. However, an article by Mark Levin makes a strong legal argument that no such thing is possible. He quotes the words of the Constitution. The section specifically defines impeachment as a way to remove from office someone who holds that office.

“rewarding a supporter” = corrupt?

Please support that contention, since many of our (current and former) cabinet members, ambassadors etc are in fact political appointees being rewarded for their support.

Actually, don’t. At least not in this forum.

The publicly announced reasons for the hearings are freely available on any of the tens of thousands of news services available for free on the web.

  1. Were there legal violations in the process (for example, was Mrs. Rich a conduit for Mr. Rich’s money, which would be a violation of campaign laws), and what if anything should be done about them?

  2. Ought Congress propose a Constitutional amendment changing the pardon process?

If there is still a General Question here, please state it.

Wring asks, “rewarding a supporter” = corrupt?

I only meant to specifically address pardons. IMHO using the pardon power to reward a supporter is corrupt. A pardon should be granted for relief when the criminal justice system has produced an unjust result.

As Wring points out, it is not inherently corrupt to appoint a supporter to a government position.

manhattan tried to send you the following in e-mail, but for some reason, it didn’t fly:

and december, by the way, there’s a couple of threads in both GD and the Pit about this pardon, debating and pitting the merits of congressional inquiry into this situation, not however, as a General Question.

This is an interesting stance to take in GQ…especially from a Moderator. Many if not most of the questions asked can be answered by the person asking if they go looking. However, some like the opinions of fellow Doper’s that often accompany the answer.

As I stipulated in the OT there is NOTHING Congress can do about this. Even if Clinton took $100,000 in cash from Mr. Rich and freely admitted it Congress could not overturn the pardon. If there were legal violations involved (such as a bribe) then it is NOT for Congress to investigate. The case should be turned over to the Justice Department or perhaps the Attorney General and they go do their thing. Indeed, a Congressional investigation may hamper efforts by the appropriate agencies to do their job (such as Congress wishing to give Mrs. Rich immunity for testimony and the Justice Department asking them to hold off on that for a week).

If this is what they are after then they should set-up discussions for precisely that and not an inquiry into the issues surrounding this case. They could hold-off awhile till a proper investigation was done by the Justice Department and then use that as evidence for why an Amendment should be made to change the pardon process.

I believe my question still stands. It looks like nothing more than a Republican attempt to throw some mud around because they can (at the taxpayers expense). Either they want Clinton politically damaged or they want the Democratic party to pay for Clinton’s abuse of power (more likely since Clinton is unlikely to ever return to public service). I am in no way condoning Clinton’s actions but I think our legislator’s behavior is lacking as well giving us another waste of government time and money for some dubious political gain (anyone seriously think this will be an issue in 2004?)…

That this belongs in GD?

Current events are different. Unless you suspect there are congressional staffers who inhabit the boards and are willing to risk their jobs to let fly with the inside skinny, we are all at the same informational advantage/disadvantage regarding current events. If you seek opinions, we have forums for that.

Congress may mandate a special prosecutor, Congress may consider the evidence it gathers while considering new legislation, Congress may do lots of things. You are correct, though, that Congress may not overturn the pardon if it is valid. That said, Congress may investigate whether the pardon is in fact valid. Seriously, check a newssite.

If you believe that, we have forums to discuss it.

This thread is closed.