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Hill ducks Libby issue

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WASHINGTON - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is staying silent as top Democratic senators demand President Bush rule out a pardon for indicted top White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby - which could evoke memories of her and her husband's own Pardongate scandal.

Party leaders - including fellow New York Sen. Charles Schumer - have written a letter to Bush urging that he promise not to pardon Libby, who has been charged with obstruction of justice and perjury in the CIA-leak case.

But Clinton has ducked taking a position on the letter.

Asked yesterday by The Post if she agrees with her party's anti-pardon offensive, Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said only, "If I have anything for you on this, I will let you know."

Rekindled comparisons to Pardongate would open old wounds for the first lady, who is readying for re-election and eyeing a run for the White House in 2008.

Bill Clinton created an uproar when he issued 11th-hour pardons to 140 people before he left office.

Sen. Clinton herself came under fire when feds investigated whether she offered clemency to four men from the Hasidic village of New Square in exchange for the community's votes in her 2000 Senate run.

She has denied playing a role in the men's pardons.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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