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Archive for Thursday, October 19, 2000

Mrs. Clinton lied about role in firings, report claims

October 19, 2000

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— Despite her denials, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton played a significant role in the 1993 White House travel office firings but she may not have knowingly perjured herself, the Whitewater independent counsel concluded in a report released Wednesday.

The final report of independent counsel Robert Ray mirrors the analysis he released in June. Ray, the successor to independent counsel Kenneth Starr, announced then that he was not bringing charges against Hillary Clinton in the case.

But coming just three weeks before the Nov. 7 elections, the full report threatened to cloud Clinton's down-to-the-wire battle for a U.S. Senate seat in New York.

But Clinton dismissed the findings during a campaign stop in Syracuse, N.Y., saying that "most New Yorkers and Americans have made up their minds about this." Asked if she was concerned about the report's release so close to the election, she added: "That's something I have no control over."

The full report, totaling more than 400 pages, represents the most expansive public examination of the scandal surrounding the May 1993 firing of seven White House employees responsible for making travel arrangements for the media.

The Clintons withstood fierce criticism over charges that they had engaged in shameless cronyism, essentially sacking low-level White House bureaucrats so they could put their own people into the jobs. White House officials maintained at the time that the firings were prompted by evidence of financial mismanagement and wrongdoing by the staff.

But the White House later admitted that it had erred in the firings and five of the employees were rehired. Several other employees who had pushed for changes in the travel office were reprimanded and the former travel office director was acquitted on criminal embezzlement charges.

When Clinton was asked in a 1995 deposition whether she had any role in the firings, she testified: "No, I did not."

Because the travel office staff served at the pleasure of the president, there was never any question about the legality of the firings. The question before Ray was whether Hillary Clinton and others had lied under oath about their roles.

"The answer is simple," Ray said in his report. "The evidence is insufficient to prove a cover-up involving any violations of federal law."

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