PARTNERS IN CRIME

A Clinton Scandals Primer

           That probe focuses on whether borrowers were forced to pay stiff advance fees to Lindsey's law firm as a condition for getting loans; investigators suspect that some of that money was in turn refunneled to the Clinton coffers. If prosecutors can make that case, Lindsey could be indicted for racketeering and possibly tax evasion. He may also face charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for a "heads up" phone call he made to his wife, Beverly, before the indictment of her then-employer, recently convicted former Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker.

           Tucker and Susan McDougal were convicted of fraud in the Castle Grande matter, and it is indisputable that Castle Grande monies wound up in the McDougal/Clinton Whitewater account. That means that the Clinton defenders can no longer claim that there was a cover-up without a crime.

           The Clintonoids keep bleating that the continuing investigations into this skein of scandals are nothing more than election-year politics. But it has been in large measure the administration's own deceptions, lies, and stonewalling--repeatedly denounced on the editorial pages of both the New York Times and Washington Post, hardly GOP house organs--that have pushed these probes so close to the election.

           Remember that in April 1994, Hillary claimed that neither she nor any of her staff had anything to do with the sequestration of papers taken from Vince Foster's office after his death. Not until five months later did the White House finally admit that numerous files had been moved by Williams to the First Family's residence to be "stored" in a locked closet. So too did the White House evade the special prosecutor's subpoena of the Rose Law Firm billing records for two and a half years before confessing their miraculous "rediscovery." The same pattern has been repeated in Travelgate and Filegate.

           Furthermore, the first heads to roll in this scandal were lopped off as a result of the investigation of administration interference with federal probes of Madison Guaranty by the Senate Banking Committee when it was controlled not by sleazoid Republican Al D'Amato, but by the Democrats. Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman, who lied to Congress about his meddling in the RTC investigation of Madison at the behest of George Stephanopoulos and Ickes, was forced out when his resignation was demanded by Democratic Senators Paul Sarbanes and Don Riegle. The entire top leadership of the Treasury Department--Secretary Lloyd Bentsen; his chief of staff, Josh Steiner; and department counsel Jean Hanson--also resigned when contradictions in their testimony before the 1994 Democratic-led inquiry became apparent, as did White House counsel Nussbaum.

           No two White House scandals are exactly alike: The Credit Mobilier affair that engulfed Ulysses S. Grant was different from Warren Harding's Teapot Dome, and Watergate was different from both Iran-Contra and Iraqgate. The hydra-headed Clinton scandals, however, are just as morally and ethically indefensible as their antecedents. As for the Clintons' remaining defenders, it need only be noted that a genuine rebirth of progressive politics in this country will be impossible if the already weakened liberal left refuses to insist on a single standard of honesty in government. And that includes the important constitutional principle that Congress has a right to be told the truth by the executive branch.

           That's a principle this White House has refused to honor. The Clintons have similarly failed to understand the main political lesson of Watergate--that the cover-up is more dangerous than the crime. That's why Hillary and her closest associates have been dragged before a federal grand jury, as have many of the president's top operatives. And the corrupt accommodations made by the Clintons in Arkansas over the course of a 20-year campaign whose ultimate goal was the White House are indeed relevant today, as demonstrated by the fact that the president himself has been called as a witness twice in 10 weeks to defend his cronies on trial.

           That's why, as the list of indictments and convictions in the Clinton scandals continues to grow, Bubbaphiles in denial should remember the old Sicilian saying: The fish stinks from the head.

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