The White House has another 60 videotapes of President Clinton attending political events that have not been turned over to Senate investigators, prompting new complaints that the White House is trying to stymie the inquiry.
Revelation of the additional tapes came at the same time Republicans on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee accused White House lawyers of dragging their feet in producing an earlier batch of videotapes showing more than 160 fund-raising and political events.
White House lawyers insisted they are hiding nothing. They said it was a simple mistake that the first tapes were not turned over sooner, and that they didn’t turn over the second round because they thought the committee didn’t want them.
Sometimes heated exchanges, both inside the committee and in a hallway outside the hearing Wednesday, underscored the frustration Senate investigators are feeling as they near the Dec. 31 deadline for their probe of campaign fund-raising abuses. Members of Congress only recently learned about records and tapes detailing how the president raised and spent campaign money.
“The administration has sought to have it both ways,” said committee Chairman Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn. “That is, give the appearance of cooperating, but yet not really cooperating in the sense of trying to help us find out the information that we need to find out.”
“Things have come out in dribs and drabs, and very grudgingly, and (it) appears on some occasions that we have in fact been misled,” Thompson said.
While Thompson criticized White House lawyers inside for failing to quickly turn over the first batch of tapes of White House fund-raising events, aides accused the White House of holding back the additional tapes of Clinton at other political meetings.
“There was a request that all fund-raising videotapes be turned over by a certain date,” said Donald Bucklin, a committee lawyer.
In an Oct. 7 letter, Thompson asked the White House to turn over “all video and audio recordings that relate in any way to fund-raising activities” by Oct. 10. In response, White Counsel Charles Ruff “responded to the senator that he had turned over all tapes of fund-raising events,” said Bucklin.
“We learned when we got the logs that not all fund-raising events were turned over,” Bucklin said.
“We asked for them, and they didn’t supply them,” said committee spokesman Paul Clark. “Our concern is that is another case of the White House holding things back until the committee hits its Dec. 31 deadline.”
White House spokesman Don Goldberg said the committee “never requested these. We’re not aware of any requests.”
White House attorney Lanny Breuer, who exchanged heated words with Bucklin outside the hearing, said the committee never asked for tapes of anything other than Democratic National Committee-sponsored events.
“If this committee thinks there is a videotape they’d like to see, let us hear about it. They’re welcome to come see it,” Breuer said.
Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, dismissed charges of White House foot-dragging, saying he found nothing in the initial batch of tapes worth covering up.
“All this conspiracy theory falls a little flat,” said Glenn.