Top House Republican Wants Clinton Aide Fired
Archer: Magaziner's Conduct 'Cannot Be Condoned'
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 27) -- A top House Republican Saturday called on President Bill Clinton to fire Ira Magaziner, one of his senior aides, in the wake of a sharply-worded ruling by a federal judge that Magaziner made false statements in a court case.
The case involved Clinton's failed national health care initiative.
"This type of conduct cannot be condoned, nor should it be rewarded through continued government employment," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer of Texas wrote in a letter to the president.
Magaziner is currently a senior advisor to the president for policy development and a member of the president's Domestic Policy Council.
Archer also said the Clinton administration should not use taxpayers' money to pay a $286,000 penalty imposed by the judge because of Magaziner's conduct.
"While the court has held that the 'government' must face the consequences, the government shouldn't be asked to foot the bill," Archer said.
The White House's only immediate comment on Archer's demands Saturday was to say, through a spokesman, that Magaziner "has and will continue to perform as a valued member of the White House staff."
The unidentified spokesman told the Associated Press that Clinton would respond early in the week to both the ruling and Archer's demand for Magaziner's resignation.
Case Involved Lawsuit By Doctors' Group
The case in question involved a 1993 lawsuit by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which wanted access to meetings of the health care reform task force chaired by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and run by Magaziner.
White House officials argued that the deliberations of the task force could be shielded from public view because it was a working group made up solely of federal government employees. In court, Magaziner gave a sworn affidavit supporting that position.
But later evidence showed that non-government employees were involved, bringing the task force's work under federal rules requiring open meetings.
In a ruling issued Dec. 18, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth found that Magaziner's statement -- drafted by White House lawyers, including the late deputy counsel Vincent Foster -- was "dishonest." He also said that it was "outrageous" that administration officials never tried to correct the information when it became clear that it was erroneous.
Judge: 'Cover-Up Worse Than Underlying Conduct'
"It seems that some government officials never learn that the cover-up can be worse than the underlying conduct," Lamberth wrote, adding that "it is clear that the decisions here were made at the highest levels of government."
The judge also found that during the course of the doctors' suit, the Clinton administration had "improperly thwarted ... legitimate discovery requests."
Lamberth ordered the government to pay the doctors' group $286,000 to cover legal expenses related to the suit.
"The government itself is -- and should be -- accountable when its officials run amok," Lamberth wrote.
Archer, who worked to kill the health care reform program developed by Magaziner's task force, said Lamberth's ruling "raises questions that touch on the heart of ethics, the proper conduct of government officials and the desire of the administration to keep information secret regarding important health care policies that the public has a right to know."
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Weekend Dec. 27 & 28, 1997
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