First Lady’s Lawyer Attacks Sen. D’Amato Charges Are Labeled ‘Wholly Unfounded And Completely False’

TUESDAY, JAN. 9, 1996

With the rhetoric rising sharply in the Whitewater affair, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s lawyer lashed out at Sen. Alfonse D’Amato on Monday, challenging the New York Republican to immediately produce any evidence he has to support accusations against the first lady.

D’Amato, chairman of the Senate Whitewater Committee, said Sunday that Hillary Clinton’s law firm billing records - sought by Whitewater prosecutors for two years and produced just last Friday - show “tremendous inconsistencies” with the first lady’s previous sworn statements to investigators.

“These are serious charges that are wholly unfounded and completely false,” Hillary Clinton’s Whitewater lawyer, David Kendall, said in a letter to D’Amato. “Since you have made these allegations, in fairness you ought now to state the specific factual basis for them.

“I don’t believe you can,” Kendall’s letter concluded.

Hillary Clinton said previously that she did only minimal work for Madison Guaranty, the S&L; owned by the Clintons’ Whitewater partner. The newly produced billing records show she did some $7,000 worth of work - about 60 hours - over 15 months, including contacts with a total of 68 S&L; executives, other Rose lawyers and state regulators.

Kendall said the records, which the White House says were discovered last Thursday in an East Wing office, support Hillary Clinton’s previous statements.

In the letter to D’Amato, Kendall suggested that “you and your agents” are engaged in an unfair attempt to discredit the first lady.

The other issue - the mass firings in 1993 of White House travel office employees - was rekindled when a 2-year-old memo surfaced describing Hillary Clinton as the prime mover behind the purge.

Hillary Clinton has denied such a role, but that is not likely to stop a barrage of questions from haunting her when she sets out this month on a tour to promote her new book about raising children.

Newspaper editorials openly questioned Hillary Clinton’s veracity, citing discrepancies between her story on the travel office firings and that outlined in the memo, written by David Watkins, then-White House director of administration.

Watkins noted that “we … knew that there would be hell to pay” unless travel office employees were dismissed “in conformity with the First Lady’s wishes.”

However, information the White House provided the General Accounting Office in 1994 says Hillary Clinton “had no role in the decision to terminate” the travel office workers.

“Clearly, the first lady has some explaining to do,” editors at The Washington Post wrote Monday.

“Whenever the White House pronounces the story dead, something else pops up to challenge the First Couple’s credibility,” wrote editors at The New York Times. “This has nothing to do with Whitewater but everything to do with honesty.”

Tags: ethics

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