A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey

Author:James Comey [Comey, James]
Language: eng
Format: azw3, epub, mobi
ISBN: 9781529000849
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Published: 2018-04-17T04:00:00+00:00

CHAPTER 10

ROADKILL

Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.

—MARGARET THATCHER

I HAVE NEVER MET Hillary Clinton, although I tried. When I became the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in January 2002, I asked my assistant to arrange an introduction to the state’s junior senator. I thought it was a standard thing for the United States Attorney—there were four of us representing the federal government in New York State—to know the senators in the state, and I didn’t want to be rude. I had met the other senator, Chuck Schumer, during the Senate confirmation process, but for some reason I had not met Clinton. After a number of attempts and multiple messages with Clinton’s office, we gave up. It wasn’t a big deal at the time, but I found it odd.

To this day, I don’t know why the meeting never happened. I suppose it could be the result of poor administrative support at Clinton’s office, or she was simply too busy. I suppose it also could have been due to the fact that seven years earlier, I had worked for five months for the Senate committee investigating the Clintons for a variety of things grouped under the heading “Whitewater.” I was a junior lawyer for the committee, still working at a Richmond law firm and charging the Senate by the hour. My focus was largely on the suicide of the former deputy White House counsel, Vincent Foster, and the handling of documents in his office. But my role on the Whitewater committee was so minor and so short—I left the assignment when our son Collin died in August 1995—that it seemed unlikely that was the reason the senator wasn’t returning my calls.

The unreturned messages in early 2002 were more likely due to the fact that my office was then supervising an investigation into Senator Clinton’s husband’s pardon of fugitive oil trader Marc Rich a year earlier, in the final hours of the Clinton presidency. In 1983, Rich and his codefendant, Pincus Green, had been indicted on sixty-five criminal counts by then–United States Attorney Rudy Giuliani. Among the counts were income tax evasion, wire fraud, racketeering, and trading with an enemy of the United States—Iran—while it held dozens of Americans hostage. Rich fled the United States shortly before the indictment (then the biggest tax evasion case in U.S. history). He was given safe haven in Switzerland, which refused to extradite him for what the Swiss considered essentially tax crimes.

Nearly two decades later, on his final day in office, President Clinton had issued Rich a highly unusual pardon. It was unusual because the pardon was given to a fugitive, which was, to my knowledge, unprecedented. It was also unusual, and suspicious, because it had not gone through the normal review process at the Department of Justice. The pardon had only been seen by then–Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, who, without seeking input from the prosecutors or agents who knew the case, cryptically told the White House he was “neutral, leaning positive.



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