Magazine article Newsweek

'The Ground Keeps Shifting': Mrs. Clinton on Ethics Troubles, Vince Foster - and How She Sees Herself

Magazine article Newsweek

'The Ground Keeps Shifting': Mrs. Clinton on Ethics Troubles, Vince Foster - and How She Sees Herself

Article excerpt

LAST WEEK, HILLARY Clinton sat down with NEWSWEEK to talk about her new book. It was also her first extensive interview about Whitewater and Travelgate in more than a year. The night before, the White House had released a 1993 memo suggesting that mrs. clinton had ordered aides to fire the White House Travel Office--despite her longstanding position that she had played an insignificant role in the flap.

Newsweek The memo says, "Foster regularly informed me that the First Lady was concerned and desired action-the action desired was the firing of the Travel Office staff."

MRS. CLINTON: I just don't have any memory of that. What I do remember is having a conversation with David Watkins, at Vince Foster's suggestion, in which Watkins told me that [the accounting firm] Peat Marwick had begun its investigation into the financial management of the Travel Office. And I said, it looks like that's what should be done.

Do you fool that the Whitewater investigation has become targeted at you?

I don't know. It's been going on a long time. We've tried to cooperate in every way we can because nobody would like this matter over with more than I would. But the ground keeps shifting about what it supposedly is about.

In 1992 you said You had done "minimal" work for Madison. But recently, notes taken by Susan Thomases say you had "numerous conferences" on the subject. How do you reconcile that?

Based on the evidence that we've seen, the Rose Law Firm represented Madison for about 15 months. And over those 15 months I did about an hour a week worth of work. There is no way that I think of an hour a week over 15 months as being a significant amount of work.

One area of confusion is the documents in Foster's office after his death. Were you concerned about law enforcement having unfettered access to them?

No. No documents were taken out of Vince Foster's office the night he died. And I did not direct anyone to interfere with any investigation into his death. I don't know how best to convey the level of grief and shock and distress that I and other people felt at the news. There was no discussion of documents, or Whitewater, or anything like that. That was not what any of us were thinking about.

But there were documents here in the residence for five days. Why were they here if not to review them?

Because when I was in Arkansas [at the time of Foster's suicide] I was called [and told] that [White House counsel] Bernie Nussbaum was distributing the documents out of Vince's office. There were personal documents of mine which I didn't even know Vince had. I was asked what should be done with them and I said, "Well, send them to our lawyers." And the decision was made that they couldn't get sent over that day. …

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