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Special Event

Marc Rich Pardon: Attorney Jack Quinn Testifies Before House Government Reform Committee

Aired February 8, 2001 - 12:26 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go back now to Washington. The hearing into the pardon being granted to Marc Rich is back under way now. And we're now hearing the question that is now being presented to Jack Quinn once again.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. PAUL KANJORSKI (D), PENNSYLVANIA: You make that point, and, I think, at least to that point do you agree that there's some misleading in the petition here?

MORRIS "SANDY" WEINBERG, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY.: Well, it's not so much the petition, it's that letter, which I hadn't seen before, where...

KANJORSKI: Well, isn't that an exhibit to the petition?

WEINBERG: I don't know that it was an exhibit to the petition, but...

KANJORSKI: I thought Mr. Latourette laid it out very well. He indicated that it was a stark contrast in legal definition between what you categorize these two gentlemen being and what Mr. Quinn categorized.

WEINBERG: If there is an arrest warrant out for any of us, and we know about it and we don't turn ourselves in, we are fugitives.

KANJORSKI: You made a point to say that Mr. Rich and Mr. Green have a habit of knowing how to exploit people and personalities and political relationships. After all, that's what we're here for, to find out whether there was anything wrong and improper or bad judgment, as Mr. Waxman indicated.

On the third page of Mr. Quinn's testimony, he talks about several other lawyers.

And maybe I should direct this more to you, Mr. Quinn. Mr. Garment, who served President Nixon as his White House counsel; Larry Ergenson (ph), who held a senior position in the Reagan Justice Department; and Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- not being at the Washington bar, I don't know any of the three gentlemen; Mr. Garment I do know -- who now serves as the chief of staff to the vice president of the United States in the present time. When was the last time that these people were engaged in transactions representing Rich and Green? From what I read in your testimony it looks like right up to the period when you were preparing the petition you were receiving information and relying on facts and information from these lawyers, or am I to assume that you flew to Switzerland and talked to Mr. Rich? I don't quite understand.

JACK QUINN, ATTY. FOR MARC RICH: No, sir. Let me answer you this way. Since I became involved in this case, sometime I believe in the spring of 1999 -- in the year 1999, when we were approaching the Department of Justice in the Southern District of New York, of the people -- and if you look at appendix A of my testimony there's a list of all these lawyers.

KANJORSKI: Now, let me understand, you were having somebody in the Justice Department contact the Southern District or you were?

QUINN: I wrote a letter to the Southern District at the suggestion of main Justice.

KANJORSKI: And this was for preparation of the legal judgment you were going to make as to what course to pursue? Whether you were going to go for some settlement of the transaction pending in New York and present the defendants at that time...

QUINN: Yes. Well, in...

KANJORSKI: ... or to go for the pardons?

QUINN: Correct. In 1999, we were focused on trying to work out a resolution of this matter with either main Justice or the Southern District. And in that period of time, of the people listed in appendix A, I worked with Ms. Behan (ph), Mr. Fink (ph), Mr. Green (ph), Mr. Libby and Mr. Ergenson. And, in fact, Ms. Behan was a partner of mine at the time, but all the other gentlemen are the lawyers who basically educated me initially about the case.

KANJORSKI: And do they continue to represent Mr. Rich or up until the time they took some official capacity?

QUINN: Today? Well, Mr. Libby's in government.

KANJORSKI: I understand. But up until the time he went into government was he still active representing Mr. Rich?

QUINN: He may have been part of the campaign. I don't know precisely when. But yes.

KANJORSKI: I'm not trying to highlight them except it's very peculiar...

QUINN: Yes.

KANJORSKI: ... not peculiar for Washington, but anywhere else in the United States.

QUINN: They were involved.

KANJORSKI: All these lawyers seemed to be on the Republican side of the spectrum, as opposed to, I think you are on the Democratic side, aren't you, Mr. Quinn?

QUINN: I'm not going to crack a joke. I was told not to do that.

KANJORSKI: Well, the point...

QUINN: But yes.

KANJORSKI: The point I'm trying to make is, obviously Mr. Rich and Mr. Green were exercising their incredible intellectual ability to figure out how to play the game, and they realized that the Republicans wouldn't have probably the entree to the White House of the president that a Democratic who had just recently been chief counsel to the president would have.

QUINN: Well, Congressman...

KANJORSKI: And I think that's the suggestion that the two witnesses were making. And the point I'm trying to make is I, sort of, react -- Jack, you know I like you, and I don't want to take this incorrectly -- I react to this idea that nobody seems to be at fault here for an awful lot of substantial misinformation of facts and information that should have been presented to the president of the United States in making this determination.

Everybody's, sort of, saying, "Boy, the pot's hot, but it's not my pot." And kicking it up, and finally yes, he's the decision-maker, there's no question about it. But the important thing is whether there was criminality, whether he made bad judgment, as Mr. Waxman indicated, or what happened, and we can't quite get to that unless we attack this one other issue.

In your mind you said you were an advocate. I find it very difficult, knowing your relationship with the White House and with the president, that you were able to penetrate the natural defenses of a high official; no different than if my chief of staff or former legislative director, who was a lawyer and left my office, would come to me to present a petition, I would make the assumption that it wouldn't be just an advocate's position, that they would arm me with the negatives also, or make certain at least that they, in their own mind, were going to be certain that I would gain that information that was important to make that judgment.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Mr. Kanjorski, I'm going to claim the time. But let him respond. We only have a few minutes left.

KANJORSKI: Let me frame the question: Did you then or do you now, in retrospect, feel that your position and your ability to penetrate the natural defenses of the president may have caused him the difficulty of not getting the full and thorough information that he should have had to make a good judgment in this case? QUINN: No, sir, I do not.

And if I may just add a sentence or two, I don't think anyone thought I was acting as anything other than an advocate. And let me remind you, I urged them to seek the views of the Department of Justice. I should not be the one looked to to present the views of these prosecutors. I was representing Mr. Rich. I did not discourage anyone from contacting the Department of Justice, the Southern District, the IRS or anyone else. In fact, I urged them to seek the views of the Department of Justice.

WAXMAN: Mr. Quinn, you were part of a team of lawyers representing Mr. Green and Mr. Rich.

QUINN: Yes, sir.

WAXMAN: And Mr. Kanjorski talked about others on that team, including a large number of prominent Republicans -- Leonard Garment, William Bradford Reynolds, Scooter Libby, who's now Vice President Cheney's chief of staff. You were part of a team, and they obviously were hiring prominent lawyers with some political connections, but just prominent lawyers. Were you hired solely for the pardon issue, or were you part of the team dealing with Mr. Rich's problems much before it ever came to the issue of a pardon?

QUINN: Yes. I was hired in, I believe it was the spring of 1999, to work on the effort to try to achieve resolution either at main Justice or in the Southern District.

WAXMAN: And that didn't involve the president of the United States or your special relationship whatever it might have been?

QUINN: It did not. And look, I would like to think that people think I'm a pretty good lawyer. And I'd like to think that people believe that my experience in government has equipped me with an understanding of how best to pursue a client's interests.

WAXMAN: Well, I know you over the years, and I think you're an excellent lawyer and I think you would make a good case advocating on behalf of your client. It appears to me that's what you've done successfully. Some of us have questions of whether the president got the other side which we think he should have had and whether in the judgment he had to make whether he made the right judgment.

I have no question in my mind that you did a good job for your client. And under the ethics as lawyers, that's what lawyers are supposed to be, when they are hired by a client, to advocate their side of the case.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURTON: We'll now go to the five-minute round. I'll start off with my five-minute round and then I'll yield part of it to Mr. LaTourette.

First of all, we'll start the five-minute round. First of all... HARRIS: We've been listening there to the questioning by the panel of Jack Quinn, the attorney who's been representing Marc Rich in this hearing into whether or not President Clinton's -- one of his last acts in office was that of handing Mr. Rich a presidential pardon, whether or not Mr. Clinton was warranted in doing so. And the panel looking into the proprieties or any improprieties that may have occurred in that. They're questioning Jack Quinn about his relationship with Mr. Clinton, whether or not that influenced his decision in this case at all.

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