Barak Refutes Testimony on Calls for Rich
Yoav Appel and News Agencies - The Jerusalem Post - March 4, 2001
Despite congressional testimony to the contrary, the Prime Minister's Office yesterday refuted the claim that Prime Minister Ehud Barak made three calls to then president Bill Clinton in a bid to gain a pardon for fugitive financier Marc Rich.
According to testimony given Thursday to the House Government Reform Committee hearing on Clinton's 11th-hour pardons, Barak called Clinton at least three times to urge him to pardon Rich. Three witnesses gave the same testimony - former White House chief of staff John Podesta, former White House counsel Beth Nolan, and former Clinton adviser Bruce Lindsey.
But last night the Prime Minister's Office was still standing by its the statement that Barak gave following the pardon. "The prime minister made one call and the matter was only raised at the end of the phone call, where Barak stressed Marc Rich's contribution to Israeli society," a source at the Prime Minister's Office said.
A source close to Barak expressed great surprise that people close to Clinton have passed the responsibility for Rich's pardon on to Israel.
"It is obvious that a marginal telephone mention did not play a deciding role in the granting of the pardon. Even if it is convenient to say so, it is untrue, especially when other requests by Barak in which he invested much greater effort, like [Jonathan] Pollard, were not granted," said the source.
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