A Starr-Crossed Investigation The three-year, $30 million probe of a small-time Arkansas land deal has taken some troubling turns. (6/30/97)
The Senate Hearings
"History will judge these hearings as a revealing insight into the workings of an American presidency that misused its power, circumvent the limits on its authority, and attempted to manipulate the truth."
In June 1996, the Senate Whitewater panel concluded its 13-month probe issuing dueling reports, bitterly divided along partisan lines. Led by Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.), Republicans accused Hillary Clinton and several top Clinton Administration officials with obstructing justice, while Democrats held the Clintons and their associates blameless and denounced the GOP report as a politically inspired witch hunt.
Republicans in 1995 had persistently advanced theories that missing records of Hillary Clinton's past work for Madison Guaranty would reveal a motive for a coverup after Vincent Foster's death. Neither the president or the first lady testified at the hearings, which were controlled by the GOP, though Mrs. Clinton submitted written answers to questions.
Releasing their 768-page report June 18, 1996, Republican senators paid scant attention to the president and, instead, targeted their major findings at the first lady. Among them:
Describing "a disturbing pattern of contradictory, incomplete or inaccurate testimony," the Republicans on the Whitewater panel formally recommended in a letter that independent counsel Kenneth Starr consider criminal charges against Clinton associates Webster Hubbell, Susan Thomases and Harold Ickes.
Hubbell, they alleged, lied about his knowledge of Castle Grande and about his whereabouts the day Vincent Foster's suicide note was found. Republicans believed Thomases had feigned memory loss -- which they noted she claimed 184 times -- on key matters. Ickes was said to have lied about the statute of limitations on bringing claims against the Rose Law Firm.
Republicans also criticized Maggie Williams and former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum as uncooperative and evasive.
"This yearlong investigation shows no misconduct or abuse of power by [the] president or first lady."
Democrats on the Whitewater panel uniformly denounced the Republican report as "despicable," "sly" and "cynical." Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) declared it "the most partisan and politicized hearing in the history of the Senate." The Clintons' Whitewater lawyer, David Kendall, said Republicans had produced "the politically preordained verdict of a partisan kangaroo court."
In their report, Democrats accepted Clinton aides' denials that any documents were removed from Foster's office, and their assertions that any mistakes they made in not providing investigators access to Foster's office were due to the stress of the situation.
No evidence existed, Democrats said, for assuming Mrs. Clinton was in possession of her long-sought Whitewater records, nor was there conclusive evidence she understood Castle Grande was fraudulent.
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