Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Paper Trail and a Cover-Up

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Paper Trail and a Cover-Up

Article excerpt

When you're a lawyer who needs a cover story to conceal close connections to a crooked client, you find some kid in your office willing to say he brought in the business and handled the client all by himself.

That's the significance of three little words in the notes taken down by Susan Thomases, Hillary Rodham Clinton's closest confidant and protector, of a telephone call to Webster Hubbell, Mrs. Clinton's law partner, early in the 1992 presidential campaign.

They were working out a story that would distance Hillary Clinton from questions about her client, the failing Madison S&L, which was lightly regulated by appointees of her husband, the governor of Arkansas.

"Rick will say he . . . had a lot to do with getting the client in," read the notes subpoenaed from Thomases' law firm, quoting Hubbell, who later ran the Clinton Justice Department and is now in jail. To anyone sensitive to nuances of cover-up, that sly "will say" is a tipoff to the concoction of a lie.

Secure in what Rick Massey would say, Mrs. Clinton, as first lady, confidently told the White House press corps in 1994, "There was a very bright young associate in our law firm who had a relationship with one of the officers of Madison. . . . The young attorney, the young bank officer did all the work."

Mrs. Clinton repeated that story under oath. But evidently law firm bills, time sheets and other documents showed otherwise. Between "Rick will say" and now, those files - zealously guarded by Vince Foster and Web Hubbell - have vanished.

The interest of the Justice Department in the files in Foster's office triggered a series of panicked phone calls and orders immediately after his apparent suicide.

Obstruction from on high stares us in the face. On July 21, 1993, White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum - unaware of what would profoundly worry Mrs. Clinton - agreed to review the dead man's files with senior Justice Department officials the next morning. But at 11 p.m. Susan Thomases called Mrs. Clinton at her mother's home; logs show a dozen early morning calls among the first lady, her chief of staff Margaret Williams, Thomases and Nussbaum. …

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