Monday, July 09, 2007

"Scooter" Libby clemency vs. payoffs for Clinton co-conspirators; Riady; Jim Guy Tucker; John Huang; Webb Hubbell; Dick Morris

The following column by Dick Morris appeared in the New York Post on or about February 1, 2001. Morris wrote this column as the stench from the Clinton pardons began to foul the air. The column provides a few hints at how Clinton and his co-defendants managed to escape punishment.

I post this column as a reminder to those who would give any credence to the Clintons' criticism of George Bush over Scooter Libby's clemency. This item should also serve as a reminder to all of us that there is no comparison between Libby's clemency and the series of events that enabled Tucker, Riady, Huang, Hubbell and Clinton to escape justice.

I saved this item before I had a blog, so I don't have the link (I don't think it would work anyway). [I have added the photos.]

Click here for previous item re: Clinton pardons.

After reading this column, try once again to remember what Libby was charged with.





COINCIDENCE? The Wall Street Journal reported last week that shortly after former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker was convicted in the Whitewater scandal, he was hired by James Riady, head of the Indonesian Lippo Group.
Riady is a longtime Clinton friend and supporter whose illegal campaign contributions, access to the White House and possible receipt of classified materials have made him the subject of congressional and Justice Department investigations. His name came up in a tape of one of the White House "coffees" when one of the guests was heard telling President Clinton that "James Riady sent me." According to published reports, Riady's lawyers are currently negotiating with the Justice Department for a plea bargain.

James Riady

For years, Riady has eluded American investigators and stayed out of the United States. But that was no problem for Clinton. Clinton greeted him warmly in New Zealand, where he was invited to a private reception last September -- even though he knew that the Justice Department was after Riady. A friend is a friend.

Jim Guy Tucker - CNN photo

In addition to hiring Tucker in 1999 (without waiting to see if he would begin serving a long jail sentence in a few months), Riady and former Hillary Clinton law partner Joe Giroir stepped in right after Tucker was indicted by Kenneth Starr in 1996 and arranged an unusual and lucrative deal for Tucker's wife, Betty. The deal meant a minimum of $325,000 per year for the Tuckers, no doubt helping tide them over during his difficult time. According to Giroir, Tucker's hiring was "a strictly merit situation."

What's the coincidence? Well, Riady and Giroir have also helped out other Clinton confidants in trouble with the law. When former Assistant Attorney General Webb Hubbell was under investigation by the independent counsel, Riady hired him and paid him $100,000. When this was revealed, Riady and Hubbell claimed that it was just a favor for a friend, although it was later disclosed that Riady barely knew Hubbell. The payment was arranged by John Huang, a longtime Riady employee and the Democratic Party fund-raiser who pleaded guilty to collecting more than $1.6 million in illegal foreign campaign contributions to the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign.

Huang - AP

And guess what? When Huang was under investigation, Riady provided him with $38,000 -- again, just out of friendship. He's some good friend, isn't he?

By further coincidence, Giroir and Riady were in the Oval Office at the fateful meeting that led to the transfer of John Huang from the Commerce Department to the Democratic National Committee as a fund-raiser. It was only a day or two later that Riady decided he wanted to help out Webb Hubbell. Coincidence? At Commerce, Huang had access to classified documents that investigators believe may have been improperly transferred to Riady.

Webb Hubbell - AP

For years, prosecutors have claimed that the money paid to Hubbell was "hush money" -- cash for silence. No work appears to have been done in exchange for the payment. Now Tucker must fall under the same suspicion that these payments may have been made to keep him quiet.

Tucker was facing a possible long prison sentence at the time that Riady reached out to him. It was also shortly after Kenneth Starr announced that Tucker was cooperating with the government. Yet, according to the Journal, Tucker apparently neglected to tell Starr or the federal judge about his side deal with Riady, even though he concluded the arrangement two months prior to his sentencing.

The timing of the Tucker-Riady dealings stinks to high heaven. If, as reported, the Tuckers concealed the deal, the independent counsel should reopen the Tucker case, find out all of the details surrounding the Riady "hiring" and re-examine what Tucker has revealed about Whitewater. Why is it that every corrupt Clinton official who might implicate the president and first lady ends up on the Riady payroll?

Any suspicions that the Riady-Hubbell deal (where Riady paid Hubbell large consulting fees for no work) was an effort to buy his silence should be heightened by the revelation of the subsequent Riady-Tucker partnership, and the Huang payoff.

Now we face the real issue: Is Robert Ray, Starr's successor as independent counsel, going to roll over and play dead or is he really going to prosecute? According to the Journal, Ray's office was apparently unaware of the Riady-Tucker relationship. Based on his bad health, Tucker never faced jail time, which reduced the leverage Starr presumably had over him during the plea and cooperation negotiations. But now Tucker has received a liver transplant and may be fit to go to prison. His perfidy in not telling Starr that he was on the Riady payroll could provide Ray with the reason he needs to reopen the case, this time with a credible threat of prison hanging over Jim Guy's head.

Will the independent counsel be up to the job or will he just wrap things up and get out of town? The answer to that question could determine whether these three payments were just a coincidence or much more.

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