First cycle of Whitewater wash starts: Congress told that Whitewater showed only bad judgement

AS CONGRESS opened fiercely partisan hearings into the Whitewater affair, White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler yesterday insisted that White House and Treasury officials showed bad judgement, but nothing worse, in their contacts over the failed Madison Guaranty savings bank at the heart of the controversy.

Addressing the House Banking Committee, Mr Cutler firmly denied Republican suggestions that the officials had tried to influence a probe by the Resolution Trust Corporation, the Treasury-controlled regulatory agency, into Madison. Among the audience in the woodpanelled hearing room was Jim McDougal, owner of Madison and co-partner with the Clintons in the Whitewater real estate venture.

Mr Cutler acknowledged there had been much loose talk at the White House, 'too many people having too many discussions about too many sensitive matters' which should have been left to the White House counsel's office. But 'nothing happened as a result of the contacts. They had no impact on the real world of RTC activity.'

Mr Cutler's testimony marks only the beginning of what could be months of on- and-off hearings on Capitol Hill into the Whitewater affair, parts of which are still under investigation by the special prosecutor, Robert Fiske. In PR terms, it could be critical.

A venerable Washington insider and one-time counsel to President Jimmy Carter, Mr Cutler, 76, only returned to the White House in March as Mr Clinton cast around for an experienced figure to contain a controversy which had forced the resignation of former Counsel Bernard Nussbaum and threatened to consume both himself and the entire administration.

'I am not a special pleader for the President of the United States, I did not ask for this job,' he told a Republican questioner, adding that he had issued a set of guidelines to ensure that any future contacts between the White House and law enforcement agencies would be 'beyond reasonable challenge'.

Challenge, however, was the watchword for the Republican minority on the committee, led by Iowa Congressman Jim Leach. Whitewater, said Mr Leach, was not Watergate, it was a mere 'bump on the landscape of political scandal'. But its handling was a case study in the 'arrogance of power'.

On a strict party line vote the committee's Democrat majority beat off a Republican attempt to extend the hearing to cover the 1993 suicide of the White House deputy counsel, Vincent Foster. As a result, this first phase of hearings will be confined to the White House-Treasury contacts.

Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
We are all simultaneously donating to and stealing from those around us
lifeWe all need our own particular language to separate from the crowd
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments