PARTNERS IN CRIME

A Clinton Scandals Primer

           And this brings us back to Foster's office and the missing Rose billing records. Hillary has claimed repeatedly that she was only the billing partner for Rose and in reality performed "little" work for Madison. But Rick Massey, who did the legal scut work for Madison under Hillary's supervision, testified before the Senate that the billing records reflect that her work was "significant." That, and not the dollar amounts involved, is the important legal question, for it raises the possibility of civil and criminal liability. Lawyers can be held responsible if it is found that their work contributed to a bank's failure, and that explains why the billing records were concealed until after the expiration of the statute of limitations in the Madison failure. However, Hillary could still be indicted for obstruction of justice if it's proven that she had a role in hiding the billing records.

           The copy of the billing records, which FBI tests have now shown are covered with both Hillary's and Foster's fingerprints, as well as notes in Foster's handwriting were found by Carolyn Huber, who handles the First Family's correspondence. Huber said she didn't recognize the billing records when she saw them after they had magically appeared on a table in the White House residence. But most people don't know that Huber was more than a glorified secretary: For 12 years she was the office manager of the Rose firm. The documents in question consist of 116 outsize, bulky computer printouts with which she was intimately familiar. She could hardly have failed to recognize them during the two and a half years during which they were sought by the Whitewater special prosecutor--especially in light of the fact that she had handled them during the Clinton presidential campaign in the wake of the first New York Times disclosures about Whitewater.

           As Ann Devroy and Susan Schmidt wrote in a lengthy Washington Post article last December entitled "The Mystery in Foster's Office: What Drove Associates Actions": "The Clinton White House is, in many ways, two operations: one, the routine political and policy officials who knew little of the Clintons before Washington; the other, the Arkansas gang, the longtime friends, allies, and protectors who came to Washington with no clear understanding of proper White House operations but broad knowledge of the Clintons before Washington. This latter group has had one clear goal: Protect the Clintons."

           Two of the Arkansas gang were in Foster's office the night he died: Maggie Williams, the First Lady's chief of staff, known in Washington as "Hillary's Haldeman," and Patsy Thomasson, an important player in the Travelgate takeover. A uniformed Secret Service agent accompanying cleaning women on their rounds has testified that he saw Williams carrying "two arms full" of files from Foster's office that night. The next day, White House counsel Nussbaum made an agreement with Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann to allow Justice Department officials to take part in a search of Foster's office. But when the team from Justice arrived at the appointed time, they were told that they could not examine Foster's files; instead, the files would be reviewed in their presence, but only
by Nussbaum.

           The switch made Heymann furious; as he later told the Senate Whitewater Committee, he called Nussbaum and asked him, "Bernie, are you hiding something?" We now know that one of the things that Nussbaum was indeed hiding was the 70-page Foster diary on Travelgate.

           But what caused Nussbaum to deny Justice access to the other Foster files? Steve Neuwirth, Nussbaum's assistant, testified that Nussbaum told him it was on orders from Hillary, relayed by her longtime confidante Susan Thomases ("Hillary's Erlichman"), since the First Lady, it was explained, did not want Justice to have "unfettered access" to the files. Neuwirth had been Nussbaum's legal lieutenant at Nussbaum's New York law firm, and was thus unlikely to have misunderstood his longtime boss.

           In the 17 hours that elapsed between Nussbaum's original agreement with Justice on the search of Foster's office and his breaking of it, dozens of phone calls passed between Hillary, Williams, and Thomases. The Senate probers painstakingly established the existence of these phone calls over many months after three separate appearances by Hillary's duo and the concealment by Thomases of some of her phone records.

           Thomases told the Senate some 180 times that she "couldn't recall" events about which she was asked. She and Maggie Williams are now both under investigation for obstruction of justice and perjury by the Whitewater special prosecutor. (One can be indicted for perjury for saying "I can't recall" if a pattern of deception can be established.) Harold Ickes, another serial amnesiac before House and Senate panels, is likewise under investigation. Ickes, who supervises Clinton's reelection campaign from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is the head of the White House Whitewater damage control (some would say cover-up) team.

          

           Then there's the matter of Bruce Lindsey, Bill Clinton's closest confidant next to Hillary. It was Lindsey who offered Clinton a safe and lucrative haven at his law firm between Clinton's losing 1980 reelection campaign for governor and his successful comeback in 1982. Lindsey has been named an unindicted co-conspirator in a campaign-cash-for-jobs case now being tried in Arkansas--the second trial in which Clinton has been obliged to testify--and that is but the beginning of his problems. Published reports say that the Whitewater special prosecutor is examining whether loans were given out by the Arkansas Development Finance Authority in exchange for kickbacks to the Clinton campaign.

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