White House Pulled FBI Files on Former Republican Aides

Article excerpt

The Clinton White House acknowledged Friday it had obtained the FBI files of House Speaker Newt Gingrich's press secretary, President George Bush's former chief of staff James A. Baker III and other appointees from Republican administrations.

Republicans immediately denounced the White House, saying aides to President Bill Clinton misused the FBI to get information on political enemies.

But White House spokesman Mark Fabiani called it "an innocent bureaucratic mistake" and said there was no indication anyone reviewed the FBI background material.

The files - some 330 in all, the majority for former employees of Republican administrations - were stored in the White House security office's vault in late 1993 and early 1994, the White House said.

The issue arose when Rep. William Clinger, R-Pa., revealed on Wednesday that in January 1994 the White House had obtained the FBI file of fired travel office chief Billy Dale, seven months after he was fired. Clinger, whose committee is investigating the firing of Dale and other travel office workers, suggested Clinton presidential aides were trying to dig up dirt on the ex-travel office chief.

Then, on Friday, Randall Turk, private lawyer for Craig Livingstone, head of the White House personnel security office, said an Army employee assigned to the White House had asked for Dale's FBI file along with hundreds of others because the Bush administration had removed all background records when it left office. …