FBI releases documents about Bill Clinton’s pardon of Jewish philanthropist Marc Rich


(JTA) — In a move decried by backers of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the FBI released documents related to President Bill Clinton’s pardon of Jewish philanthropist Marc Rich.

The file of documents was released and posted online Monday as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request, according to reports. The FBI then drew attention to the release with a tweet.

The FBI told Bloomberg News that it automatically posts materials online when documents have been requested three or more times.

The Clinton campaign questioned the timing so close to Tuesday’s election.

The FBI notes, which are heavily redacted, suggested that protocol was not followed but provided little new information into the pardon controversy, The Associated Press reported.

The bureau closed an investigation into the pardon in 2005 without charges. Rich had been married to a wealthy donor to the Democratic Party, songwriter Denise Rich.

Rich died in 2013 at his home in Switzerland – where he fled in 1983 to avoid an indictment on charges including wire fraud, racketeering, trading with Iran during an embargo and evading more than $48 million in U.S. income taxes – at 78. He was among a flurry of pardons given by Bill Clinton on the last day of his presidency in 2001.

The former president, Hillary Clinton’s husband, later said he regretted granting the pardon, calling it “terrible politics.”

The document release comes days after FBI Director James Comey revealed the discovery of emails he said were “pertinent” to the agency’s investigation into whether Hillary Clinton or her aides mishandled classified information when she served as U.S Secretary of State and used a private email server for official business. The new cache of emails was discovered during an unrelated FBI probe into whether ex-congressman Anthony Weiner, who is married to one of Clinton’s closest aides, sexted with an underage girl.

Comey had previously closed the inquiry into the Democratic presidential nominee’s server, saying she had mishandled information by using a private server – a result of Clinton’s determination to keep some exchanges quiet – but that nothing rose to the level of a criminal complaint.

Critics say it is unusual for the FBI director to announce the reopening of the investigation 11 days before the election without announcing any concrete facts.

Comey served as prosecutor in charge of a legal case against Rich from 1987 to 1993. As the U.S. attorney in Manhattan in 2002, Comey took over a criminal investigation of Clinton’s pardons, including Rich’s.

Rich, a Belgium native who held several citizenships including U.S., Spanish and Israeli, contributed more than $80 million to major institutions in Israel, including Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Ben-Gurion University, the Israel Museum and the Jerusalem Foundation. He also helped to bring dozens of Jews from Ethiopia and Yemen to Israel.

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