Another Batch Of Documents Arrives, Belatedly
New White House papers 'not damaging in substance but in process,' say aides
By Eileen O'Connor/CNN
WASHINGTON (Dec. 9) -- White House officials have no explanation why the Oval Office record keepers' notes on daily events were only discovered one month ago, nearly eight months after a congressional subpoena.
A total of 73 diary entries were turned over to House investigators Monday afternoon. Aides describe the notes as "not damaging in substance but in process." They fully expect Republican lawmakers to charge the delay was part of a cover-up or obstruction in the investigation of campaign fund-raising activities. Special Counsel to the President Lanny Davis insists there is no basis for such an accusation, but had no details how or why such a delay occurred, particularly following the delayed discovery of actual video of the coffees. One source told CNN there is so much finger-pointing going on, it is "impossible to tell what happened right now."
Despite an April directive from the White House counsel's office to search for and turn over any materials pertinent to the subpoena, including any involving "coffees," the counsel's office was unaware of the diary notes of Janis Kearney, special assistant to the president and records manager, concerning presidential activities. The notes range from a few lines to several paragraphs, and are mostly vague in nature. Some are politically embarrassing. One note from June 19, 1996 says, "He hosted a coffee, that Nancy H. (Hernreich, the president's administrator) described as a 'political' coffee that would probably last all morning. She explained the difference between 'money' coffees and the 'political/issues' coffees as how much he interjected."
Other notes refer to returned contributions, and even names specific donors, or people who aides think the president should talk to, clearly in regard to donating money. Davis insists all materials from Kearney's file pertaining to phone calls were turned over to the Department of Justice prior to the recent decision by Attorney General Janet Reno not to appoint an independent counsel to further investigate telephone solicitations of campaign funds from the White House by the president and vice president.
Aides are bracing for a storm of criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill, particularly at the hearing chaired by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) scheduled for today. Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh are scheduled to testify regarding the on-going investigation of campaign fund-raising activities at the White House.
The documents were discovered after the belated discovery of videotapes of White House coffees attended often by the president and Democratic donors. After that embarrassing discovery, a renewed effort was made to search for any more databases, and Kearney's turned up.
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Tuesday Dec. 9, 1997
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