Congress gets OK to grant immunity in Rich case

Financier's ex-wife could be questioned

May 24, 2001|By NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department has given Congress the green light to grant Denise Rich immunity and have her testify publicly about the campaign to win a presidential pardon for ex-husband, Marc Rich, according to officials.

"We've gotten approval from Justice," said Rep. Dan Burton, the Indiana Republican who is chairman of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee. "As I understand it ... they said they have no objection to us immunizing her."

Rich appeared before Congress earlier this year but invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to testify.

Without a grant of immunity, Congress could not force Rich, a songwriter, to tell how her ex-husband won an 11th-hour pardon from President Bill Clinton, despite being a fugitive in a federal tax case.

Investigators want to know whether Marc Rich illegally funneled donations to favorite Clinton causes through straw donors in return for support for his pardon request.

Denise Rich contributed generously to the Democratic Party and the Clinton presidential library.

Denise Rich's lawyer, Martin Pollner, declined to comment on Burton's remarks.

A Justice Department spokesman could not be reached.

Burton would have to get Democratic support on his panel to win the needed two-thirds vote to grant immunity to Rich.

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