Senate Panel Releases Whitewater Reports
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 18) -- Some 14 months and $1 million later, the Senate Whitewater committee today offered up two vastly different versions of the affair, split predictably along partisan lines.
Most of the highlights of the Republicans' case leaked out during last weekend, but Republicans and Democrats called back-to-back press conferences, following the official release of their Whitewater reports, to press their cases.
To no one's surprise, the Republicans' majority report found a pattern of misconduct, including probable perjury and obstruction of justice by Clinton Administration officials.
Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.) said the hearings revealed "a pattern of deception and arrogance" by administration officials. D'Amato said the administration has misused its power and attempted to manipulate the truth as the committee went about its work (288K WAV sound). He and others pointed fingers, in particular, at Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom they saw at the center of the scandal and most likely the person responsible for the reappearance of long-sought billing records, which were found in the White House living quarters.
Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), another committee member, said the closer that witnesses were to the Clintons, the worse their recollection of Whitewater events. "They had difficult memories, they couldn't be refreshed....They just couldn't remember anything," Bennett said.
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said Whitewater "has truly been about an abuse of power, in Arkansas and in Washington." Domenici said the president, his wife and their associates "have engaged in some highly questionable legal conduct (352K WAV sound)."
Democrats on the committee, in contrast, saw an election-year smear attempt. In their minority report, they said: "Partisanship has colored the majority's decision...."
Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) said there was no evidence of wrongdoing by either the president or First Lady. "Gov. Clinton did not misuse his office as governor of Arkansas, and he has not misused his office as president of the United States," said Sarbanes, the committee's ranking Democrat (224K WAV sound).
Sarbanes accused the Republican majority of rank partisanship and called the venom of the attack on Hillary Rodham Clinton "surprising and disturbing."
"Every act is portrayed in its most sinister light," Sarbanes said.
Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) said she was particularly offended by the hard-edged attack on Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The fact of the matter is she was singled out for special abuse by this committee," Moseley-Braun said.
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) called the Whitewater probe "the most partisan and politicized hearing in the history of the Senate," and he said it amounted to taxpayer-funded opposition research for the Republicans' 1996 campaign (352K WAV sound).
Sen. Richard Bryan (D-Nev.) called it "a political inquisition."
"I think the American people, in their essential fairness, understand the difference between an investigation and an inquisition," Bryan said.
The White House, more concerned with the growing probe into possible misuse of FBI files by White House staff, offered only a limited response to the reports' official release.
Press Secretary Mike McCurry said there was no useful purpose served by the committee and called it "a calculated attempt" to hurt the president.
McCurry did praise the Democrats' minority report, saying it was "a powerful document" that put the committee's work into context.
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