This is a story about wealth and power.
Word emerged this week that Denise Rich, songwriter and former wife of well, uber-rich, Mark Rich, had renounced her American citizenship to become Austrian, in order “to be closer to her family.” Rueters reports that Ms. Rich could save “tens of millions of dollars or more in US taxes”.
Former hubby, Mark, was indicted in 1983 for tax invasion and for illegally trading with Iran. (George Lardner reports that one of the deals was an oil trade while Iran was holding American hostages.) Rich sought haven in Switzerland and was an international fugitive for 17 years and was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. He never returned to the US to face the charges or stand trial.
On January 20, 2001, hours before leaving office, then President Bill Clinton issued a pardon to Marc Rich despite the fact that he was a fugitive. Denise Rich had made large contributions to the Democratic Party and to the Clinton Library. An investigation by a US House of Representatives committee found that those donations influenced the decision. Former President Jimmy Carter and others called Clinton’s pardon of Rich “disgraceful.”
The pardon was aided by Eric Holder, the current attorney general of the United States who was Bill Clinton’s deputy attorney general when the pardon occurred. Eric Holder became personally involved in the Rich pardon and even advised Rich’s lawyers to circumvent the standard pardon process and go straight to the White House. Holder kept his own staff in the dark about his dealings and after the pardon was granted, sought jobs for two former aides with Jack Quinn, a Rich attorney.
Holder’s conduct was despicable and if House Republican Darrell Issa‘s Fast and Furious investigation is his undoing it will be a bit of late justice coming, admittedly, from a very unlikely source.
By the way, for all of you New World Order Conspiracy types, of course there is a Jewish connection. Holder told the White House that he was “neutral leaning toward favoring” the pardon because the Israelis, in the form of then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, were lobbying for it. Marc Rich had made substantial contributions to Israeli charities.
All this must really piss off the Jonathon Pollard family. Both Rich and Pollard are traitors and yet Rich never served a day in jail. It helps if Bubba thinks your ex is “purdy” and you can throw around some very serious cash. And, levying a monetary penalty against Marc Rich is like withholding Jabba the Hutt’s hors d’oeuvres–it will hardly be noticed.
Speaking of Mr. Issa and republicans, we can start to wrap this up by mentioning that Scooter Libby, one of Marc Rich’s many lawyers, went on to become Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and would one day ironically be a candidate for a presidential pardon, himself. Mr. Libby testified before congress that he believed that Marc Rich was not guilty of the tax charges. He also said that Rich’s trading with Iran was not illegal though Rich could be considered a “traitor”, a deft bit of shambling legalese.
The “Scooter” had his feet in both piles of shit as he was eventually convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements in the Bush White House scandal regarding the leaking of Valery Plame Wilson’s identity as a CIA operative. He received a fine and 30-month prison sentence which then President George W. Bush commuted, though Bush declined to pardon Libby for his crimes.
Viewed from afar it appears that your chances are better if you are a traitor (Rich) under a Democratic President (Clinton) than if you are a liar (Libby) under a Republican (Bush) one. And, things have come to a pretty pass when W looks ethically correct, principled and measured.
Denise and Marc Rich, Bill Clinton, Scooter Libby, Eric Holder–both republicans and democrats–prove conclusively that the wealthy and powerful have, and play by, a different set of rules where justice is routinely perverted and power is abused. But let’s face it, Denise Rich takes the cake–she helped prove that American Justice is both unfair and capricious and then tossed away the sacred gift of citizenship as she strode out the door.
Obviously, there is no morality to this story but the moral is always have a good attorney.
Just ask Marc Rich.
Credits: WiKi, NYT, NYDN, USHR, Rueters, WSJ