The Law: When Presidential Power Backfires: Clinton's Use of Clemency

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Abstract

Although President Bill Clinton possessed exclusive authority to exercise the power over pardons and clemencies, his use of that authority greatly damaged his presideny. By circumventing established procedures within the D OJ (as he was free to do), he simultaneously maximized the freedom to do what he wanted and maximized the risk of political and legal error. The consequences of his actions in the Marc Rich pardon are still being felt in the courts. A grandjury in New York is looking into the conduct of five attorneys who, over a period of two decades, gave assistance to Rich. Future presidents will look upon Clinton's understanding and use of the pardon power as something to avoid.

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