Bill Clinton formerly created the William J Clinton Foundation in 2001 at the end of his presidency.
On January 20, 2001 – and just hours before formally leaving the presidential office for good – Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, an international commodities trader.
Rich had been indicted on charges of tax evasion and illegally trading oil with Iran. It was the biggest tax evasion case in U.S. history. He was indicted on 65 counts but fled to Switzerland. The man who brought the indictment against Rich was none other than Rudy Giuliani.
Rich was pardoned after his ex-wife gave over $1 million to the Democratic Party – including $100,000 to the senate campaign of Bill’s wife, Hillary Clinton – and $450,000 to the Clinton Library. The pardon also happened after senior UBS executive, Pierre de Weck, sent a letter to Clinton requesting the pardon and offering a… you guessed it…paid speech.
Note that UBS has factored significantly among the Clinton Foundation donors in more recent years per Wiki Leaks.
There are other long-lingering ties stemming from Rich’s pardon. Large Clinton Foundation donors Nigerian businessman Gilbert Chagoury and Russian investor Sergei Kurzin (Uranium One deal), among others, both had close ties to Rich (Kurzin had worked for Rich).
The pardon was extremely controversial with even president Jimmy Carter saying there was no doubt that “some of the factors in his pardon were attributable to the large gifts”. A NY Times editorial called it a “shocking abuse of power”.
Rich’s attorney, Jack Quinn, had been Vice President Al Gore’s Chief of Staff and then became White House Counsel to President Bill Clinton. Quinn also had a close relationship with Deputy Attorney General (later Attorney General) Eric Holder. It was Holder who decided the pardon petition should bypass normal procedures and be submitted directly to the White House.
A Federal Prosecutor, Mary Jo White (currently Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission), was appointed to investigate President Clinton’s pardon of Rich. She ultimately stepped down from the investigation and was replaced with a man who had been a vocal critic of both Eric Holder’s pardon recommendation and the pardon itself. The man who replaced White was…
Current FBI Director James Comey.
The Marc Rich pardon scandal is important on several fronts:
- it was in essence the formulation of the Clinton Foundation
- it allowed the Clinton’s to recognize (and realize) their monetary power that stemmed from Bill’s presidency
- it brought many of the current players in the Clinton Foundation into the Clinton fold
The Clinton Foundation Investigation had been proceeding on a parallel track due to the exposure brought on by Peter Schweizer’s book “Clinton Cash”. Note that Comey specifically refused to comment on the Clinton Foundation when he testified before Congress.
For those of you who thought the sudden release of Marc Rich’s pardon documents two days ago by the FBI was a bit strange, perhaps this all makes matters a bit more clear.
The release of the Marc Rich documents was a message.
The Clinton Foundation Investigation is not over.
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