Denise Rich denies pardon bought


NEW YORK, Reuters

Wealthy Democratic Party donor Denise Rich, in her first interviews since former President Bill Clinton’s pardon of her ex-husband, Marc Rich, insisted the pardon was not bought and said she supported it under pressure from their daughters.

Denise Rich, a successful songwriter who donated more than US$1 million to Democratic causes and US$450,000 to Clinton’s presidential library, said in interviews with Vanity Fair magazine and ABC News’ “20/20” program, that there was no quid pro quo in the pardon Clinton granted the exiled billionaire commodities trader on his last day in office Jan. 20.

“That’s not at all what it was about,” Rich said in the”20/20″ interview to be broadcast on Friday. “I wanted to support the president, and I wanted to support my country.”

Rich also denied tabloid reports suggesting that she and Clinton had an affair.

“I never had a sexual relationship or anything else that’s improper,” she said. “Any kind of relationship that would be improper with President Clinton.”

In both interviews, Rich, 57, admitted that her contributions to the Democratic Party, including former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from New York, had bought her access to the White House.

“Oh yes, that’s true. Of course,” Rich said in reply to a question from ABC interviewer Barbara Walters.

She told Vanity Fair: “Politics goes into music, which goes into social life, which goes into the arts, and everything connects.”

The presidential pardon allowed Marc Rich, who fled to Switzerland 17 years ago and has remarried, to avoid prosecution on more than 50 counts alleging racketeering, wire fraud, income tax evasion and illegal oil trading with Iran.

In the interview with Vanity Fair, which goes on sale May 9, Rich said only after she heard her dead daughter Gabrielle’s “whispers” could she forgive Marc Rich for their bitter separation and divorce and ask Clinton to pardon him.