Data on Clinton pardons withheld
Library releases 2,830 pages on clemency actions
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The Clinton Presidential Library has withheld more than 1,000 pages about clemency the former president granted during his final days in office - including a pardon to fugitive financier Marc Rich - from a batch of documents recently released to the public.
The library released 2,830 pages of documents this week on pardons President Clinton considered for Rich and others during his final months in office. But the library withheld 1,114 pages that archivists said would disclose confidential discussions of advice the former president received from advisers or would violate someone's privacy.
The library's delays in releasing documents have prompted criticism of Hillary Clinton and her husband from her rival for the Democratic nomination for president, Barack Obama, and from Republicans.
Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the National Archives, which runs the library, said yesterday that the federal agency may have misinterpreted Clinton's instructions in a 2002 letter to the Archives on his presidential records when deciding what pardon documents to release.
Cooper said archivists don't have any immediate plans to revisit the pardon records to determine whether additional papers should be made public because doing so would delay the release of other records. The library is expected to release 10,000 pages of Hillary Clinton's schedules from when her husband was in office later this month.
"We're serving several masters at the same time. If we do that and look at all of the materials we've released so far, we're not going to get anything new out," Cooper said. "What that means is Mrs. Clinton's schedules would not be out on time and whatever is next in the queue would not be attended to."
On his last day in office, President Clinton granted 140 pardons and 36 commutations, many of them controversial. The documents released include dozens of letters Clinton and his advisers received in the months before he left office advocating pardons for Rich and others. Rich had fled the country after being indicted for tax evasion. His wife, Denise, had contributed $450,000 to the Clinton library and more than $1.1 million to the Democratic Party.
In a Dec. 6, 2000, letter, Denise Rich pleaded with Clinton, "as a friend and admirer," to pardon her husband. "You have the power in this matter not just to show mercy, but to do justice."