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Clinton Pardons Convicts During Christmas SeasonAired December 22, 2000 - 2:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: There's a bit of holiday present coming to some folk from the president in the form of some pardons. There are some important names on it, as well as some names that were left off by their significance as well.
CNN's Eileen O'Connor is at the White House, now, with the latest on that -- Eileen.
EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, sources tell CNN that the president will pardon Dan Rostenkowski. Now, he is the former head of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee who was caught up in a corruption scandal. He had been sentenced to 17 months in prison and fined $100,000 in 1996, after being accused and convicted of misusing taxpayer funds -- using them to buy to buy personal gifts for people; putting people who did little or no work on the payroll.
So this is -- Dan Rostenkowski's name was not one of those being mentioned as a possible name for a Christmas pardon; but the president has decided to grant one in this case.
Also, he is deciding to grant a pardon to Archie Schaffer. Now, Mr. Schaffer was considered a go-between between former Agricultural Secretary Mike Espy. An independent counsel built a case, or tried to build a case against Mr. Espy. Mr. Espy was convicted, but Mr. Schaffer was actually convicted.
The judge in that case, in fact, tried to acquit him twice. Went up to an appeals court; he sentenced him to one year and one day in prison. Expressing, actually, at sentencing some remorse that he had to give that sentence, saying that he'd been unfairly caught up in all this. So he, too, being granted a pardon.
Now, a little interesting footnote to this: The independent counsel who prosecuted that case is Mr. Ray, who is also, as you know -- has convened a grand jury and is considering, perhaps, prosecuting the president for perjury after he leaves office.
Now, in addition, also, the president has decided to pardon two women who were given fairly lengthy sentences, mandatory minimum sentences on drug charges -- Kemba Smith and Dorothy Gaines. And people had expected, perhaps, for him to make a statement against these kind of mandatory minimums for crack cocaine offenses. He's always felt that they unfairly target minorities, who overwhelmingly use crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. And those sentences are usually longer for crack cocaine.
But in this case he's not decided to give any kind of blanket pardon for those kind of cases, just doing this, as White House officials say, on a case-by-case basis -- Joie.
CHEN: Eileen, there are also some names that have been bandied about as possibles for consideration of pardon by the president in the waning days of his term in office. Significantly, the American Indian activist Leonard Peltier, as well as some figures associated with the White House scandals -- Susan McDougal's name had been mentioned.
Was there any mention of those sort of folks, whether anything might be done about them?
O'CONNOR: No, in fact White House spokesman Jake Siewert basically said that these marquee names are not going to be on the list today. But that does not mean, Joie, that they are still not under consideration.
And, you know, two other big names out there, of course, are Webb Hubbell and Susan McDougal, who were convicted on charges related to the Whitewater investigation. And so the White House says that, while they may not be on this list -- there's things blowing over all over here -- that they may still be considered for a pardon before the new year -- Joie.
CHEN: Eileen O'Connor, getting blown around at the White House; thanks very much for being with us.
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