Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Officials Deny Clinton Pressed Them to Use Tear Gas at Waco

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Officials Deny Clinton Pressed Them to Use Tear Gas at Waco

Article excerpt

Rebuffing Republican contentions, top federal officials testified Friday that President Bill Clinton did not pressure them to use tear gas to end the 51-day siege at Waco.

GOP lawmakers failed in repeated efforts to elicit answers to the contrary. At one point, former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell suggested that Republicans in charge of the House hearings on Waco were allowing themselves to be manipulated by David Koresh, the Branch Davidian leader.

Koresh and 80 of his followers died on April 19, 1993, as fire swept the Davidian compound after the FBI filled it with gas.

Hubbell said he never spoke to Clinton directly about the standoff until after the fire, communicating only with Bernard Nussbaum, then the White House counsel, and his deputy, the late Vincent W. Foster Jr. Hubbell said, however, that he assumed that the lawyers had notified Clinton. He also said Attorney General Janet Reno had notified the president of her decision.

Hubbell and a slate of former Justice Department and FBI officials, including former FBI Director William S. Sessions, further agreed that Clinton did not exert any influence or pressure on how to resolve the conflict.

Sessions said the plan was carefully thought out by the FBI before Reno was asked to approve it. He also said Reno considered the request at length - and rejected it once - before finally giving the authority to proceed.

"The discussions with the attorney general were very complete and she was very, very interested in every single phase and step of it and questioned how the decisions were made," Sessions said. "She was particularly concerned about children."

He said he had no contact with the White House during the 51-day siege.

Also on Friday, the eighth day of the hearings, one of the few survivors of the siege offered an emotional depiction of the final hours inside the compound. …

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