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Whitewater Stakes Go Higher D’Amato Threatens To Hold Full-Scale Panel Hearings

Accusing Democrats of “stonewalling” on Whitewater, Sen. Alfonse D’Amato raised the prospect Monday of a fresh investigation of President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton that could last for months.

If Senate Democrats refuse today to renew the special Whitewater committee investigation that expired Feb. 29, the New York Republican said he will open a probe Wednesday through his Senate Banking Committee.

D’Amato’s initiative comes after Democrats and Republicans were unable to work out a final agreement on extending the special Whitewater committee investigation. Democrats are looking for a guarantee that any extension would end June 10.

Republicans agreed to the ending date but refused to bar the possibility of yet another extension in the event new information surfaces that Republicans feel requires further investigation.

D’Amato’s latest move provoked an immediate response from the president’s aides.

“After 61 days of hearings and a fishing expedition spanning nearly a year, Sen. D’Amato caught nothing,” said White House spokesman Mark Fabiani.

“Now he is trying to change fishing holes” and “no one will accept such a blatantly political move by the chair of Sen. Dole’s presidential campaign,” Fabiani added. D’Amato heads up Bob Dole’s election effort in New York state.

That committee would look into “the activities of any bank, savings and loan or (other) financial institution in the state of Arkansas from Jan. 1, 1978, to Jan. 20, 1993,” D’Amato said in a statement.

It also would look into the activities of the Rose Law Firm where Hillary Clinton was a partner. The law firm represented financial institutions before state agencies and it represented federal regulators overseeing the cleanup of the savings and loan industry.

In addition, the Banking Committee would examine then-Gov. Clinton’s relationship with Arkansas bond dealers such as Dan Lasater, a multimillionaire businessman who hired Clinton’s brother and lobbied the governor for state business.

Tags: ethics