Slippery White House stokes up suspicion: Constant drip of less than shattering revelations keeps scandals alive

THE SUMS of money are piffling, no wrongdoing has been proved. The central events took place in a small, obscure Southern State, a decade ago or more. But Arkansas' then governor, Bill Clinton, is now President. And for a harassed White House, the tangle of his personal and financial dealings, collectively known as 'Whitewater', is the story that will not die.

Yesterday brought the latest instalment of torture by a thousand tiny cuts: allegations that the Rose law firm of Little Rock - where Hillary Clinton and Vince Foster, the senior White House counsel who died last July, were partners before they came to Washington - only last week had secretly shredded documents relating to Whitewater, the real estate venture the Clintons once jointly owned with the head of a savings bank called Madison Guaranty.

Admittedly, the report appeared in the Washington Times, a conservative paper ferociously critical of a Democratic President. Based on the claims of two unidentified Rose employees, it is hotly denied by the firm's managing partner. But the timing is unfortunate: just when Robert Fiske, the special counsel appointed by the government to uncover the truth about Whitewater, is about to start work in Little Rock.

The inquiry will examine not only possible financial and ethics misbehaviour by the Clintons, but that separate headache for the White House - the Foster affair. It is now admitted that Whitewater documents were removed from Foster's office shortly after he was found dead, before the police could inspect it. Now the White House must contend with speculation Foster did not commit suicide, as universally and logically assumed, but was murdered.

The rumours' only basis are assertions by a paramedic who first saw the body. His claims of 'circumstances inconsistent with suicide' have been rebutted by leading forensic experts. Nor has anyone suggested who might have killed Foster, or why. By far the most plausible explanation is that he was so depressed he took his life.

But it is by innuendo and partial revelation that Whitewater lives - prompted less by Republican mischief- making than White House slipperiness, that offers conspiracy theorists a field day. The removal of the files from Foster's office offered ammunition aplenty. If proof emerges that Rose did indeed turn to the paper shredder, there will be yet more.

Meanwhile, other shreds of the Whitewater fabric pop up almost daily. Last weekend came the first apparent proof that money from Madison, whose 1989 collapse cost taxpayers up to dollars 60m (pounds 41m), helped the Clintons meet their commitments to Whitewater, which they had jointly set up with Madison's owner Jim McDougal.

The funds in question, a puny dollars 7,300, date back to 1985. They are said to be an 'informal payment' assisting the Clintons at a moment when the Whitewater concern was experiencing difficulties. But Jim Leach, the Iowa congressman who is leading the Republican campaign, insists the discovery is 'clear evidence of a small amount of fire amid the smoke'. Another typical story contains the less than shattering revelation the Clintons might have underpaid their income taxes by dollars 11,000 between 1978 and 1980, by incorrectly reporting Whitewater transactions.

More gripping was a story in the New York Times that a report by the Park Police, who found Foster's body, 'strongly suggests' Bernard Nussbaum, White House counsel and Foster's immediate superior, deliberately impeded its investigations in the 48 hours following his death.

Now Mr Nussbaum says he did nothing wrong when he insisted that other staff be present when witnesses were interviewed by the police. But the Justice Department refuses to release either the report of the Park Police or the separate autopsy on Foster, on the grounds that to publish them could interfere with the work of the special counsel. And so curiosity grows. Will the White House never learn? Or maybe there really is something to hide.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness