Clinton `Can't Imagine' White House Aids Improperly Aiding Hubbell

Article excerpt

In 1994, the life of Webster Hubbell must have seemed pretty grim. He had just pleaded guilty to bilking his former law partners out of $400,000. He had resigned his post as deputy attorney general and was on his way to prison. Whitewater counsel Kenneth Starr was breathing down his neck hoping to get cooperation because, as Hillary Clinton's partner and friend, Hubbell knew most of the secrets relevant to the Whitewater matter.

Just when things must have seemed hopeless, Webb Hubbell began to get the greatest consulting fees he'd ever seen in his life.

The Lippo Group gave him $100,000 for unspecified services. Bernard Rapoport, a Democratic Party donor, put Hubbell on his payroll at $3,000 a month for six months, and an assortment of other big Democratic donors, all with close ties to the Clintons, kicked in several thousand more. Hubbell must have figured pleading guilty to a felony was the best thing to happen to his career. According to The Wall Street Journal, Hubbell made $310,000 in his last year as a Rose Law Firm partner. But he made $500,000 between the time he confessed and the time the prison doors slammed shut behind him. What a country! At a press conference in late January, President Bill Clinton was asked whether he knew about Hubbell's windfall. He said, "I can't imagine who could have ever arranged to do something improper like that. . . . I knew nothing about it, none of us did, before it happened." On April 2, 1997, The Washington Post reported that White House officials made calls to various business executives asking for help for Hubbell. Calls were made by Thomas "Mack" McLarty, who was then White House chief of staff; Erskine Bowles, who was then chief of the Small Business Administration and is now White House chief of staff; and Mickey Kantor, who was then U.S. trade representative. McLarty recalls telling the president and the first lady of his activities on Hubbell's behalf and, though he cannot recall the president's response, he does remember the first lady thanking him. There are quite a few interesting things about the president's answer. First of all, the president himself offered the view that such payments were "improper. …


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