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Clinton grants more than 100 pardons before leaving office

January 20, 2001
Web posted at: 10:24 a.m. EST (1524 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Keeping his promise to work until the last hour of the last day of his term in office, President Clinton granted more than 100 pardons -- including one to his own brother -- before preparing to relinquish power to the incoming Republican administration of George W. Bush.

A vast majority of those who received the last minute pardons are unknown to the public, although the list includes younger brother Roger Clinton, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros and Whitewater scandal figure Susan McDougal.

News of McDougal's pardon came just one day after the president struck a deal with Independent Counsel Robert Ray effectively ending the Whitewater investigation. In that agreement, Clinton agreed to a suspension of his law license and acknowledged that he gave false testimony under oath in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Clinton met into the night Friday with legal and political advisers discussing potential clemency and pardon cases, but decided to delay any announcements until Saturday morning, just hours before he leaves office.

"He wanted actually to sleep on a few and he went to bed last night doing that and so we'll probably be making an announcement a little later this morning," White House Chief of Staff John Podesta said early Saturday.

A presidential pardon -- providing official forgiveness for criminal wrongdoing -- gives back to convicted criminals benefits enjoyed by a full citizenship.

Clinton stressed that most of the people he would pardon have long since paid their debt to society and that the main intent of his executive action was to lift restrictions on voting and employment.

High-profile people who have received presidential pardons include:

Roger Clinton, who was convicted of drug-related charges in the 1980s. Susan McDougal, a former real estate business partner of the Clintons. She was sentenced in 1996 and released from prison in 1998. She was convicted of four felonies related to a fraudulent $300,000 federally backed loan that she and her husband, James McDougal, never repaid. One tenth of the loan amount was placed briefly in the name of Whitewater Development, the Arkansas real estate venture of the Clintons and the McDougals. Her attorney, Mark Geragos, said he remains hopeful that she would be pardoned, refusing to say whether he has received any indication from the White House that she would be pardoned. She was incarcerated for 21 months. Henry Cisneros, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development during Clinton's first term in office. He was convicted of making false statements to FBI agents conducting a background investigation of him when he was nominated to the Cabinet post in 1993. They included misleading investigators about cash payments he made to a former mistress.

Notable figures missing from this list include Leonard Peltier, a Native American convicted of killing FBI agents Ron Williams and Jack Koler in June 1975. Also excluded was Michael Milken, who made billions for himself and others in the 1980s junk-bond business. He spent 22 months in prison and paid $1 billion in fines before his release.

Webster Hubbell, a longtime Clinton friend and former Justice Department official who was convicted of fraud for over billing clients and served 18 months behind bars, was also passed over for a pardon.

In addition to the pardons, the president was debating whether to make one last designation of monument status -- this one for parts of Governors Island in New York City. That decision, too, was put off until Saturday morning, according to senior administration aides.

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