WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Special Counsel Robert Mueller convenes a grand jury to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign, it is important to recall that Mueller made the decision in 2005 to close a FBI grand jury investigation that was convened by the FBI in the 2001 investigation into former President Bill Clinton’s decision to pardon fugitive financier Marc Rich.
Also interesting is the role former FBI Director James Comey played in the decision to end the Marc Rich grand jury without a recommendation of prosecution.
From 1987 to 1993, Comey, working in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, served as the DOJ prosecutor who oversaw the prosecution of Marc Rich, the billionaire oil trader convicted of tax fraud and trading with Iran during the embassy hostage crisis.
But in 2001, when Bill Clinton decided on his last day in office to pardon Marc Rich, Comey oversaw the criminal investigation, but decided there was no wrongdoing on Bill Clinton’s part, “despite public outcry over the evidence that Rich’s ex-wife had donated to Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign.”
That Mueller and Comey were both considered to be “Clinton Fixers” during the Marc Rich case bears merit given the case the grand jury was investigating, namely that there was clear suspicion Denise Rich, the ex-wife of Marc Rich, had bribed the Clintons to obtain the pardon.
The Marc Rich pardon scandal
In the aftermath of leaving the White House, Clinton’s reputation was not only racked by the sexual scandals, but in one of his parting acts, just hours before George W. Bush took the oath of office, Clinton on Jan. 20, 2001, gave a pardon to the swashbuckling oil trader and notorious tax evader Marc Rich.
Rich had fled to Switzerland to escape indictment in the United States for tax evasion and illegally trading with Iran while American embassy personnel were still being held hostage in Tehran, among other criminal charges.
The Marc Rich scandal involved Denise Joy Eisenberg, a songwriter for Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle, who Rich married in 1996 and divorced in 1998.
In 1998, Denise Rich helped bundle a $450,000 contribution to what was then known as the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation to help fund the building of the Clinton presidential library.
According to the Washington Post, the contributions were made in three payments, from July 1998 to May 2000, at the urging of her friend Beth Dozoretz, then well known as a major Democratic Party fundraiser.
The Washington Post further reported that Denise Rich’s attorney, Carol Bruce, told a House Government Reform Committee that held a hearing on the Marc Rich pardon in February 2001 that her client gave an enormous sum of money” to the Clinton library fund, but the amount and timing of the gifts were not disclosed.
The newspaper also noted that Dozoretz spoke with Bill Clinton 10 days before he pardoned Marc Rich, while she and Denise Rich were visiting Aspen, Colorado.
The Washington Post reported that Grammy- and Oscar-nominated songwriter Denise Rich had “in recent years” donated $867,000 to Democratic Party Committees, $66,300 to individual Democratic candidates, and $70,000 to a fund established for the Senate campaign of Hillary Clinton, according to records obtained from the Center for Responsive Politics.
The newspaper also noted Denise Rich had given $10,000 to the Clinton legal defense fund, while donating to Bill and Hillary furniture worth $7,375.
“E-mail messages released by the House committee make repeated mentions of Denise Rich’s role in seeking a pardon for her ex-husband, including several that indicate Marc Rich’s attorneys believe she could persuade the president,” wrote Washington Post reporter James Grimaldi.
It is worth noting that reporter Josh Gerstein, writing in Politico in August 2014, noted key documents pertaining to the Marc Rich pardon remain under seal at the Clinton Library, hidden from public view yet today.
For a more comprehensive discussion of the Marc Rich pardon case, see: (1) Jerome R. Corsi, Partners in Crime: The Clintons’ Scheme to Monetize the White House for Personal Profit (Washington, D.C.: WND Books, Inc., 2016), Chapter 2, “Profiting in India,” pp. 12-14.