Clinton `Inner Circle' Breached

By Strobel, Warren P. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 20, 1996 | Go to article overview
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Clinton `Inner Circle' Breached

Strobel, Warren P., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)

Bruce R. Lindsey's being named an unindicted co-conspirator in a Whitewater-related trial brings the White House's expanding travails much closer to President Clinton.

Mr. Lindsey, who maintains a low profile and bears a title that says little about his real duties, is one of the president's closest confidants and a prized troubleshooter.

He travels almost constantly with the president, keeping an ear and an eye out for the political and legal interests of a fellow Arkansan to whom he hitched his star 16 years ago.

Mr. Lindsey, 48, is "within the inner circle of people that the president trusted and looked to for help," a former top White House official said yesterday.

"He's a very important and senior adviser to the president," White House spokesman Michael McCurry said. "Clinton both enjoys his company, relies on his advice and respects his counsel."

Mr. Lindsey - his formal title is deputy counsel to the president - dropped his normal aversion to publicity yesterday, taking to the White House driveway to complain about a TV report on developments in the Little Rock trial of two bankers charged with fraud in financial dealings with Mr. Clinton's 1990 gubernatorial re-election campaign. Mr. Lindsey has been named an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.

As a growing crowd of reporters surrounded him, Mr. Lindsey protested that he did not conspire to conceal bank withdrawals for the 1990 campaign from the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Lindsey faces no charges of wrongdoing. But by naming him as an unindicted co-conspirator, prosecutors working for Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr apparently hope to introduce damaging testimony from chief prosecution witness Neil T. Ainley about Mr. Lindsey's activities.

The White House saw political motives in the prosecutors' actions.

Mr. Starr is "smart enough to know that it would generate [an] explosive environment of the consideration of this issue," a senior official said. "Starr will have to someday decide whether he did the right thing in his own conscience."

Mr. Lindsey and Mr. Clinton met in the mid-1970s. They became close in the early 1980s, after Mr. Clinton lost his 1980 bid for re-election as governor of Arkansas and planned his next campaign from the offices of Wright, Lindsey and Jennings, the Little Rock law firm of Mr. Lindsey's father.

Mr. Lindsey played a key role in Mr. Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. Among his most important and sensitive duties then, as now, was to coordinate the response to media and legal inquiries into the tangle of financial deals known as Whitewater.

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