The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Marc Rich:
A big fish who swam away

Feb 19, 2001

As Clinton was leaving the White House on January 20, he gave pardons to 141 people. One of them was Marc Rich, a billionaire trader, who has been living in Switzerland since he fled the U.S. in 1983, facing charges of tax evasion and illegal trading.

Marc Rich certainly had a few things going for himself when it came to getting a pardon, besides his multi-millions. He had some pretty special lawyers. One was Jack Quinn, Clinton's White House counsel. Another of his lawyers was Lewis Libby, now working as Dick Cheney's chief of staff. And a third lawyer for Rich was Leonard Garment, who was Nixon's White House counsel. In addition, Marc Rich has an ex-wife who has raised thousands and thousands of dollars for the Democratic National Party, given money to Hilary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign and to Willian J. Clinton's library foundation.

No matter how much the politicians fuss about what Bill Clinton did under the influence of Marc Rich's money, the pardon will not go away. Just as Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon still stands; Bush Sr.'s pardon of Casper Weinberger still stands, Jimmy Carter's pardon of G. Gordon Liddy still stands. And when Bush Jr. gets ready to pardon, he will enjoy this little prerogative of office.

They all agree: presidents should be able to help their friends, especially the ones facing criminal charges.