Hillary tries to whitewash Whitewater

HILLARY CLINTON tried to lay to rest the Whitewater controversy yesterday by giving her first press conference about the Clintons' business affairs in Arkansas. Admitting that her liking for privacy might have stoked suspicions, she denied any wrongdoing in her real-estate investment or commodities dealing.

By taking the offensive when there is increasing public scepticism about the media's obsession with Whitewater, the Clintons may hope to escape the legacy of their Arkansas business affairs which have dogged them since 1992. A confident Mrs Clinton explained she made dollars 100,000 ( pounds 67,000) in forward cattle dealing in 1978- 79, because she was confident about the expertise of her friend, Jim Blair.

She said she had left the trading in his hands, but commodities takes 'a lot of nerve and I just found out that I was pregnant.'

On the Whitewater Development Corporation, she said the most embarrassing aspect was that it was so unsuccessful. She said the collapse of the property market in Arkansas in the early 1980s had made it impossible for them to get out of the company. She denied money had gone from their partner, Jim McDougall's Madison Savings and Loan, to Mr Clinton's political campaign.

Few questions from the White House press corps were aggressive. The danger is that some of the information she gave will prove to be false. Refusing to attack her critics Mrs Clinton said: 'This is really the result of our inexperience of Washington.' Speaking of her former partner at the Rose Law Firm Vince Foster, who became a senior White House lawyer before committing suicide last year, she said she did not know why he did it.

The most dangerous questions revolve around her dollars 100,000 profit in the risky cattle-futures market of the 1990s. She says she invested dollars 1,000 because that was all she could afford to lose, but in fact her potential losses were greater. She denied that she received favoured treatment because her husband had become governor.

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