Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called Monday for President Reagan to pardon the Iran-Contra defendants, saying they cannot get a fair trial in the nation's capital and their indictments are politically motivated.
Hatch, in an interview, reiterated statements he made shortly after last summer's congressional hearings into the foreign policy scandal. A member of the Senate committee that conducted the hearings, Hatch said Monday, "I really believe that there has not been any showing of venality, corruption or criminal intent.""To put the country through a one-and-a-half to two-year major political exercise is, I think, wrong," he said. "And to talk as though an indictment is a patriotic act is wrong, too."
Pardons, Hatch said, are "the only way you could end it."
When questioned Monday at the White House about any plans he might have for pardons, a tight-lipped Reagan replied only that he was "not going to discuss that now."
Last Wednesday, Lt. Col. Oliver North, former national security adviser John Poindexter and two others were indicted on criminal charges in the scandal, but Hatch said the indictments revealed nothing.
He said other senators feel the same way but declined to name any and said he had no plans to circulate a formal letter or petition seeking support for presidential pardons. His calls so far have been rebuffed by the White House, he said.
He said it is unlikely North and the others will be found not guilty in federal court in the Democrat stronghold of Washington.
"They're going to be tried as Reaganites in the District of Columbia," he said. "It's very unlikely they're going to have the same right to a fair trial that most other people indicted across the country (get)," he said.