Clinton Legal-Defense Letters Were a Racket That Defrauded Donors, Lawyers Allege
Rodriguez, Paul M., Dettmer, Jamie, Lehrer, Eli, Insight on the News
Could Bill Clinton and his subordinates be open technically to a prosecution on racketeering-related mail and wire-fraud charges involving the president's legal-defense funds -- the kind that brought down mobster Al Capone? Some federal investigators and private lawyers think so.
At issue are statements, letters and fund-raising appeals made directly by the president and his subordinates to generate public donations for one of at least two legal-defense funds Clinton created to help pay his million-dollar-plus attorney bills.
In the solicitations, the president made specific claims that the Monica Lewinsky allegations were completely false. Clinton and his aides denied in the fund-raising appeals all the Lewinsky-affair charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. Now the president has under oath admitted an "improper relationship" with Lewinsky; he has, in effect, acknowledged that some portion of the allegations first raised in January 1998 were true.
Legally speaking, therefore, the sources said, the president has admitted he knew at the time the fund-raising letters went out for his legal-defense fund that he made false representations. …