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"HRC Pressure" Alleged In Travel Staff Firings


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Aug. 6) -- The House Committee investigating the firings of the White House travel office staff has released what it says is new information pointing to a larger role by Hillary Rodham Clinton's role in the tangled affair.

But the White House charged the information was taken out of context and the committee's move was loaded with partisan politics.

The Clinton Administration fired several longtime employees of the White House Travel Office in May 1993, alleging at the time that the employees were mishandling money.

Billy Dale, who directed the travel office, was quickly cleared of any wrongdoing but believes the administration smeared him.

In a statement released by Rep. William Clinger (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, former White House Chief of Staff Mack McLarty was said to have "acknowledged a never-before-disclosed conversation with the First Lady on May 16, 1993 -- three days before the firings. Mr. McLarty previously told (General Accounting Office investigators) that he only had one meeting with the First Lady about the Travel Office."

Clinger's statement indicates that McLarty made hand-written notes indicating, "May 16: HRC pressure." This "pressure" allegedly was applied, the statement indicates, during a dinner McLarty had with the president and Mrs. Clinton. The statement says, "McLarty acknowledged that the First Lady encouraged action being taken: 'I think that was really was what she was saying, let's make a decision, you and others charged with this responsibility, make a decision and take appropriate action.'"

Clinger also takes the administration to task for keeping 2,000 pages of documents from his committee, citing "executive privilege."

Clinger says the executive privilege is supposed to be used in matters of national security. "President Clinton's claim of executive privilege are for his political security, not national security," Clinger charged.

The White House denounced Clinger's latest charges as politically motivated. Spokesman Mark Fabiani told CNN that the assertion that McLarty had never talked about the May 16th meeting was a "falsehood."

Fabiani said McLarty discussed the meeting at a July 2, 1993 news conference where a White House "Management Review" of the firings was released.

"Did (Mrs. Clinton) order people fired?" Fabiani asked rhetorically. "So far the answer to that for her and McLarty is no." Fabiani added that Mrs. Clinton has acknowledged having heard reports of mismanagement and only asked that McLarty investigate and take action as necessary.

Fabiani also said Clinger's accusations of misusing executive privilege for the 2,000 pages of documents is misleading. He said Clinger and his staff have been shown every page of those documents.

"It's a phony charge," Fabiani said, adding that "the shots are being called by Newt," a reference to House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

"We're willing to give (Clinger) possession (of the documents) if he can explain why he wants them. He hasn't," Fabiani said.

Clinger's statement threatens a contempt of Congress vote if the documents are not turned over by Aug. 16.

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