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Whitewater Net Ensnares
Arkansas Securities Official

WASHINGTON (CNN, Feb. 9) -- The Whitewater spotlight has turned to a former Arkansas securities commissioner who said she was pressured by White House aides to make a public statement favoring the Clintons in their role in Whitewater.

Beverly Bassett Schaffer said a White House aide approached her husband in late 1993 to ask if she was willing to speak out publicly in favor of President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

She told the Associated Press her husband was later approached by a Clinton friend, who asked if his wife might be willing to hold a press conference on Whitewater. Later, an attorney in Schaffer's law firm asked her to compile notes on Whitewater, which she believed to have been passed on to the White House aide, Bruce Lindsey.

Schaffer said Thursday her response to those asking for her support was "No way. I don't want to be drawn into the political response."

Both Lindsey and the attorney, Skip Rutherford, are mentioned in notes from a Jan. 7, 1994 White House meeting on Schaffer and Whitewater, which were the subject of scrutiny Thursday during Senate Whitewater hearings.

The notes, taken by former White House communications director Mark Gearan, showed Clinton aides were worried about what Schaffer would say about her discussions with Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton had talked to Schaffer about allowing a savings and loan associated with the Whitewater land deal to issue stock. Schaffer approved the stock deal, but denied, during the 1992 campaign, that she'd been pressured by Mrs. Clinton to do so.

According to notes of the January 1994 White House meeting, aides suggested sending someone to Arkansas to make sure Schaffer's story was "okay."

The White House turned over the notes Wednesday after a delay, saying Gearan inadvertently had taken the notes with him when he left the White House.

[Orrin Hatch]

The notes are filled with expletives, some of which set the Senate Whitewater committee buzzing. One Republican said the notes showed an effort to influence Schaffer before she talked.

"I personally am disturbed by the implications of this language, particularly that someone was going to meet with Mrs. Schaffer and that holes had to be poked in 'their' story and that if this 'f's up' we're done, and I wonder what that means," (198K AIFF or WAV sound) said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

White House spokesman Mark Fabiani said presidential aides who participated in the 1994 meeting were simply seeking to have Schaffer repeat comments she made that were supportive of Mrs. Clinton's Whitewater role.

White House counsel Jane Sherburne, who was questioned during Thursday's session, said she did not know what the notes meant. But she suggested they could mean White House aides were just trying to get the facts.

Gearan will likely be called back to explain his notes to Whitewater investigators. The hearings are recessed until next week. (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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