Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who led Republican forces during the Iran-Contra hearings a year and a half ago, said Thursday night that President Reagan should pardon Oliver North now that a special prosecutor has moved to drop the chief charges against the former Marine.
Hatch told the Deseret News that if Reagan were not "gutless" he would have pardoned North long ago. Now, Hatch said, with the major charges dropped, the president is less likely to face allegations of a cover-up if he pardons North in the remaining charges.Those charges, Hatch said, should be barred because Congress granted North immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony. The most important remaining allegation, Hatch said, is that North lied to Congress. That would be a crime, he added, and prosecutable if it were not for Congress' grant of immunity.
"I don't think executive branch officials should lie to Congress," he said, "though many people feel North was justified because he believed Congress was unable to maintain the secrecy covert operations require."
"If North does go to trial on the remaining charges, even in the District of Columbia which is politically anti-Reagan, he may well win because of the widespread belief that he was doing his best to carry out the foreign policy of this president," Hatch said.
The remaining charges also include accepting an illegal gift of a security system installed at North's home, and making personal use of traveler's checks he received from the anti-Sandinista movement.