Senate Whitewater Committee Republicans told the White House on Thursday that its seeming unwillingness to turn over documents quickly could prompt the Senate to extend its investigation.
Committee Chairman Alfonse D’Amato scolded the White House for waiting until this week to turn over 100 pages of documents related to Whitewater, President Clinton’s failed Arkansas land investment.
The White House said the delay was inadvertent. The papers - which the committee subpoenaed in October 1995 - were handed over this week after White House aides discovered them in the files of Harold Ickes, the White House’s deputy chief of staff.
During testimony Thursday, Ickes said the papers were overlooked because of a mixup.
“If this isn’t a deliberate pattern of evasion, then it’s certainly an attitude of disdain,” D’Amato said.
He also questioned whether the White House was withholding any other documents that might be useful to investigators.
The Whitewater committee is scheduled to expire Feb. 29. D’Amato has asked for an additional $600,000 to continue hearings for an indefinite amount of time.
Thursday’s testimony centered on the papers - notes taken during meetings White House aides held in early 1994 on Whitewater issues, including discussions on whether an independent counsel should be named to investigate.
Clinton eventually agreed to ask Attorney General Janet Reno to name a special prosecutor to look into Whitewater, but in the days before that request, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had argued against it, Ickes said.
“She had very grave reservations,” he said.
D’Amato and Michael Chertoff, staff attorney for the committee’s Republicans, questioned Ickes closely on how interested the Clintons were in the legal exposure they would suffer as a result of a Resolution Trust Corp. investigation.
In testy exchanges with committee Republicans, Ickes acknowledged that he had spoken to the Clintons about Whitewater, but said he was unable to recall details.
D’Amato repeatedly suggested that Ickes was not being truthful about what he remembered.