Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Senators Keep Spotlight on Altman in Whitewater

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Senators Keep Spotlight on Altman in Whitewater

Article excerpt

Senators from both parties renewed their attacks Thursday on Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman, bolstered by White House aides' testimony that he failed to fully correct congressional testimony even after they told him it was wrong.

Although long gone from the witness chair at the Whitewater hearings, Altman remained the focus of lawmakers' attention - and their ire.

With four high presidential aides lined up before the Senate Banking Committee, most of the questions centered on what the White House did after learning Altman's testimony last Feb. 24 was incorrect.

At that hearing, Altman minimized how much contact had occurred between Treasury Department officials and presidential aides about a Resolution Trust Corp. investigation into a failed Arkansas savings and loan with ties to President Bill Clinton.

He also failed to disclose discussions with the White House three weeks earlier about whether he should withdraw as overseer of the RTC's inquiry in light of his friendship with the Clintons.

During a marathon session Tuesday, Altman admitted omissions and mistakes but said he never intended to mislead Congress.

John D. Podesta, White House staff secretary, monitored Altman's testimony and said he knew it was wrong. He said a week after Altman initially testified that he cautioned him to correct the record on three areas.

Altman sent a letter, then another, then a third, but they all fell far short of a full accounting.

Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., said Podesta had done the right thing, but then "it seems to me the ball was dropped" by Altman.

"Short of hitting somebody between the eyes with a 2-by-4, I don't know how much more clearly it could be imparted to an individual that there's a problem with the testimony and something ought to be done," Bryan said.

Republicans picked on Altman on another point - suggesting he let White House officials talk him out of withdrawing as RTC overseer in early February.

The White House aides didn't help Altman's cause. …

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