He questioned Clinton's pardoning of Marc Rich, telling Larry King, "A pardon should be reserved for a situation where there is a manifest sense of injustice." He added, "The American people are troubled whenever they think a pardon would be associated with political support or financial support." Ashcroft also said Clinton in part was responsible for the increase in pot smoking during the 1990s because, although he first claimed not to have inhaled, he later told MTV he would take a drag "if I could. I tried before." About which Ashcroft said, "I think that sends the wrong signal."
The top lawman promised to take another look at hate crimes. As a senator, he opposed legislation that would have expanded hate crime statutes to cover sexual minorities.