Clinton questioned in Alexis Herman investigation
September 8, 1999
Web posted at: 1:33 p.m. EDT (1733 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bill Clinton was interviewed under oath Wednesday by the independent counsel in the influence-peddling probe against Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman.
Independent Counsel Ralph Lancaster questioned the president at the White House for about an hour. Counsel to the President Beth Nolan said: "Consistent with prior practice, no further statement about the interview will be made."
Lancaster is investigating charges Herman took a cash bribe or solicited illegal campaign donations while she was a White House aide to Clinton.
Labor Secretary Alexis Herman is under investigation for influence peddling
Herman has denied the allegations. When Attorney General Janet Reno announced in May 1998 that she was calling for an independent counsel in the case, Herman said she was "extremely baffled" by that decision.
African businessman Laurent Yene claims he gave Herman an envelope full of cash. The payment may have part of a scam in which Herman allegedly would use her White House influence to help a consulting firm. Yene also claims Herman played a role in illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee.
The president has repeatedly expressed confidence in the past that Herman would be cleared of all the charges.
Since Lancaster was appointed the Independent Counsel Act has expired but ongoing investigations are allowed to continue.
The decision to call for a special probe in the Herman matter was described as a difficult decision for Reno. In court papers the attorney general acknowledged that the Justice investigation "has developed no evidence clearly demonstrating Secretary Herman's involvement in these matters and substantial evidence that she may not have been involved..."
But Reno said some of Yene's information was verified and therefore she decided to go forward.
Before he was appointed independent counsel, Lancaster handled civil and criminal cases in Maine and Massachusetts as partner with the firm of Pierce Atwood of Portland, Maine. In 1987-88, the U.S. Supreme Court appointed the Harvard-educated Lancaster as a special master for a civil case involving New Jersey and Nevada.