Two White House lawyers last year conducted a room-by-room search of the first family’s living quarters as part of a deal with Whitewater prosecutors that avoided the issuance of a search warrant during an election year, sources said Tuesday.
The agreement was reached after Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr suggested he might seek an unprecedented court order to search the private residence of the White House as part of an effort to locate a box that he thought might be relevant to his criminal probe.
Even in the height of the Watergate scandal, prosecutors didn’t seek access to the president’s private quarters. But the level of distrust between the White House and Starr’s office appears to have reached new heights.
White House lawyers Jane Sherburne and Miriam Nemetz and usher Gary Walters in early 1996 searched through the first family’s rooms, even in closets and under beds but did not turn up any box. Sherburne negotiated the unusual agreement with Starr, and both President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton were amenable to the terms of the search, sources said.