GOP Senate report
takes aim at first lady
White House calls it an 'inquisition'
June 15, 1996
Web posted at: 11:45 p.m. EDT
From Congressional Correspondent Bob Franken
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Republican report from the Senate Whitewater Committee charges that first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton "was closely involved" in the handling of documents in deputy White House counsel Vince Foster's office following his death.
The report, obtained by CNN, also says Mrs. Clinton directed that investigators be denied "unfettered access" to Mr. Foster's office. Foster, a close Clinton confidante, was found dead in an apparent suicide on July 21, 1993.
Republicans also charge in their report that Mrs. Clinton's chief of staff, Margaret Williams, and Mrs. Clinton's friend Susan Thomases, "in consultation with Mrs. Clinton, took part in formulating the procedure for reviewing documents in Mr. Foster's office on July 22, 1993."
The 252-page section on Foster's death goes on to speculate that Williams may have removed files from Foster's suite on the night of his death.
The Republicans say the reason for all this was that "at the time of his death, Vincent Foster was intimately involved in two brewing scandals, Travelgate and Whitewater, touching on President and Mrs. Clinton," and that "Senior White House officials were aware that the President and Mrs. Clinton faced potential liability over Whitewater and their relationship with the McDougals."
James and Susan McDougal were owners of the now-failed Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, and Whitewater partners of the Clintons. They were both recently found guilty in Little Rock of defrauding the federal government.
The report says, "An index of documents in Mr. Foster's office is missing, and other indices were revised following his death to conceal possible references to Whitewater."
Finally, the report is hard on then-White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum for failing to "conduct a meaningful review of Mr. Foster's office." Furthermore, the report continues, Nussbaum "did not describe to law enforcement officials sensitive files pertaining to the Clintons and the administration."
As CNN reported Friday, the GOP report concludes that White House officials engaged in "highly improper conduct" in handling of documents in Foster's office following his death.
White House associate counsel Mark Fabiani responded by attacking the credibility of the report.
"Few will believe anything Senator (Alfonse) D'Amato has to say about ethics and fewer still will give any credibility to Whitewater hearings that have been indelibly tainted by Senator D'Amato's role as Bob Dole's campaign chairman.
"The wholesale leaking of the report by Senator D'Amato proves this is not a legitimate investigation. These leaks are typical of a political inquisition."
D'Amato is chairman of the Senate Whitewater Committee.
The entire Republican report, which is more than 700 pages long, will be publicly released Tuesday morning.
A competing Democratic report is also being written which will defend the administration's actions. Sources say it will conclude the various Whitewater charges are baseless, speculative, and highly partisan.
- AllPolitics: "A Sweetheart Deal" (Whitewater background)
- AllPolitics: Senate Whitewater Committee Wants More - June 14, 1996
- AllPolitics: Dole finally talks Whitewater on the stump - June 14, 1996
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