Attorney General Janet Reno was not amused last week when White House aides turned over tapes of President Clinton attending White House coffees with donors the day after her department concluded there was no need for a special prosecutor to investigate the president. “Where the White House has a responsibility to produce documents, it’s very, very frustrating when they are produced in a delayed fashion,” said Reno.
Republican members of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee felt much the same way, with Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., accusing the White House of “clear-cut obstruction” in not producing the tapes sooner.
The videotapes themselves offered little new evidence to illuminate whether Clinton broke any laws by entertaining donors in the executive mansion, but their sudden appearance after months of requests and denials has put the White House in some very unflattering light.
Come and get it
Enter Harold Ickes, the former White House deputy chief, whose long-awaited testimony on Capitol Hill came right at dinner time.
Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., committee chairman, tried to tie Clinton to a criminal conspiracy involving illegal fund raising for the head of the Teamsters union, but was forced to retreat in the face of White House documents refuting his charges.
“If you’ve got to eat crow, or half a crow, it’s better to do it warm than before it gets cold,” Thompson said.
Meanwhile, Ickes seasoned the dish with unrepentant glee.
“The committee’s virtually exclusive focus on Democratic fund raising … serves a partisan, not public agenda,” Ickes told the committee. “If President Clinton and Vice President Gore had not won re-election, it is unimaginable that this committee, and its counterpart in the House, would be conducting these particular inquiries.”
Ickes said that Democrats played by the rules and challenged Republicans on the committee to change the laws if they don’t like them.
Ickes’ comments came as the Senate Republican leadership was crushing an attempt to change the rules and curb the influence of big-money contributors in political campaigns.
The McCain-Feingold bill was declared dead Tuesday by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “It is not going to pass today, it is not going to pass tomorrow, it is not going to pass ever,” he said.
An American and her campaign to ban land mines around the world won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, instantly adding momentum to one of the causes Princess Diana championed.
The prize - endowed a century ago by the inventor of dynamite - went to Jody Williams, coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Williams had transformed “a ban on anti-personnel mines from a vision to a feasible reality.”
Boris Yeltsin promptly pledged his support to Williams’ cause, announcing that Russia would sign a global treaty to ban land mines.
That leaves the United States and China as the only major countries to refuse to sign the treaty banning the export and use of anti-personnel mines.
Peace, who needs it?
Not content with a deadlock in peace talks with Palestinians, the Israeli government appeared intent last week on undermining relations with its closest Arab neighbor.
King Hussein of Jordan said Wednesday that he told Israel two days before it sent hit men to kill a Hamas leader that the militant Islamic movement was ready to consider a dialogue with Israel.
The failed assassination Sept. 25 led to the capture of two Israeli intelligence agents and their subsequent exchange for Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was released from an Israeli prison and returned to Gaza in triumph.
The king’s comments appeared to reflect his continuing anger over Israel’s decision to launch the assassination attempt on Jordanian soil just when Israel had the chance to end the threat of Hamas attacks.
Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and has remained its staunchest Arab ally.
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The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Compiled by News Editor Kevin Graman from wire reports