Today, White House spokesperson Tony Snow accused Hillary Clinton of "chutzpah"
for criticizing the Bush administration's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison time. After all (the Republicans keep reminding us), Bill Clinton offered a last-minute pardon to fugitive financier Marc Rich.
Wanna talk chutzpah, Tony? Turns out that Marc Rich's lawyer -- the guy offering arguments that his client had done nothing wrong -- was none other than Scooter Libby
. From a 2001 CNN article:
Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff testified Thursday he believes prosecutors of billionaire financier Marc Rich "misconstrued the facts and the law" when they went after Rich on tax evasion charges.
The testimony from Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who represented Rich dating back to 1985 but stopped working for him in the spring of 2000, came during a contentious, hours-long House committee hearing into former President Bill Clinton's eleventh-hour pardons.
In a letter to the New York Times
, Clinton cited Libby's argument as one reason for the pardon.
The Rich affair remains mysterious. One of the people lobbying for clemency on his behalf was Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Most people presume that Rich operated, at least in part, on behalf of Israel.
Yet the charges against Rich stem from illegal trading with Iran. Despite his Jewish background, he appears to have forged a special relationship with Iran's revolutionary leader, the vociferously anti-Israel Ayatollah Khomeini.
Rich made a ton of money on the Iranian sales, which he justified by arguing that his company was Swiss, and therefore exempt from American restrictions. Prosecutors therefore mounted an effort to get him on charges of avoiding taxes. Rich stayed out of court by remaining in Switzerland, which, due to its very different laws on tax evasion, would not extradite.
U.S. Marshalls tried to capture Rich overseas, but their plans were continually leaked, and the target repeatedly got away. One wonders who relayed the information to him.
Again, these events took place when Scooter Libby was his lawyer.