All Clinton Pardons Face Review

British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrives back at 10 Downing Street after Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Common, London, Wednesday, May 9, 2007. AP Photo/Sang Tan

Federal prosecutors in New York, already investigating some of former President Clinton's last-minute pardons will decide whether any other clemencies and commutations that he granted on his final day in office should be probed, Justice Department officials said Tuesday.

The officials said Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney in New York, will examine all 177 clemencies and commutations granted by Mr. Clinton on Jan. 20 to determine whether any other cases should be investigated.

White's Manhattan office already is investigating three cases: the pardon of fugitive commodities broker Marc Rich, commutations for four Hasidic Jews convicted of fraud, and the allegation that Mr. Clinton's brother, Roger, received up to $200,000 for promising to help a Texas man win a pardon.

Officials say the move is not an expansion of White's pardon probe, but that it will allow her to investigate matters outside her jurisdiction in New York. If White finds evidence of criminal wrongdoing, she would decide whether to prosecute those cases or could refer any evidence she gathers to other jurisdictions.

Among the cases in her expanded purview is that of convicted drug dealer Carlos Vignali, whose father is a Democratic contributor. Los Angeles leaders supported Vignali's early prison release, and U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas in Los Angeles phoned the White House on behalf of the Vignali family.

The Vignali commutation also is under scrutiny because of the role of Mr. Clinton's brother-in-law, Hugh Rodham, who was paid $200,000 by Vignali's father, Horacio Vignali, to help get his son released from prison after serving six years of a 15-year sentence. Rodham later returned the money.

Mayorkas told The Los Angeles Times he would seek Justice Department guidance on how his office should work with the New York U.S. attorney.

"I would have to consult with the department as to how they deem it might be proper to proceed," Mayorkas said.

The plan approved by Attorney General John Ashcroft calls for White, a Clinton appointee, to review all of the questionable clemencies. She then would decide whether to prosecute those cases that might have criminal exposure, or to refer any evidence she gathers to other jurisdictions around the country.

White's office declined to comment to The Times about her expanded role.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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