Justice Department To Search White House Phone Logs
By Correspondent Pierre Thomas
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 21) -- The Justice Department inquiry into President Bill Clinton's 1996 fund-raising activities will begin with a massive computer search of White House telephone records, CNN has learned.
Investigators hope the telephone logs will reveal who Clinton spoke with and whether any suspicious donations were made to the Democratic National Committee shortly after the conversations, sources close to the inquiry said.
Investigators plan to compare the names of the recipients of White House phone calls to those who made substantial donations to the DNC, the sources said.
The review of White House phone records is part of a sequential process that could lead to the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate Clinton's activities. A similar inquiry is already under way concerning Vice President Al Gore's fund-raising techniques.
Clinton has said he does not remember making any fund-raising calls from the White House. Gore admits making 46 fund-raising calls.
Federal law prohibits government officials from soliciting campaign donations from a government building or on government property.
During the first phase of the presidential probe, Justice Department officials will have 30 days to determine if there is a specific allegation of wrongdoing by the president.
At the end of the 30-day period, Attorney General Janet Reno will have to decide whether to launch a more intensive 90-day FBI probe, which could result in interviews with White House staff and others. Following that probe, the attorney general would have to decide whether to petition a panel of three federal judges for an independent counsel.
Investigators will focus on whether Clinton made fund-raising calls and, if so, whether any of those funds went into so-called "hard money" accounts used for direct aid to federal candidates.
Reno previously determined that "soft money" solicitations from federal facilities were not precluded by the federal law, but that "hard money" solicitations were.
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