Whitewater targets Hillary Clinton's phone

In a dramatic gesture that threatened to revive the flagging Whitewater investigation, Republicans on the US Senate's Whitewater committee yesterday issued a string of 49 subpoenas demanding documents and telephone records from the White House.

The move was orchestrated by Senator Alfonse D'Amato, a New York politician with a reputation for political theatrics. He appeared yesterday to be zeroing in on Hillary Clinton's activities in the days after the death of White House legal counsel, Vincent Foster.

Republicans now suggest the First Lady may have manoeuvred to block a search of Foster's office by investigators looking into his death in a Washington park, later ruled a suicide. It is something the Clintons have strongly denied.

Mr D'Amato, the committee chairman, said he would recall Mrs Clinton's chief of staff, Margaret Williams, and her close friend, Susan Thomases, to quiz them again about a flurry of phone calls between the two and Mrs Clinton's mother's home, where she was staying.

He said their testimony that they could not remember the calls was "suspect" and subpoenas were necessary because of "an obvious pattern of delay" in the White House turning over everything from e-mail messages to legal documents.

Clinton aides and Senate Democrats have derided the Republicans for turning Whitewater into a "political witch-hunt" at a time when the investigation was running out of real leads. "This is a dangerous path we are pursuing here," Senator John Kerry said.

With the 1996 presidential election campaign under way, politics is clearly a driving motive. The mention of the word subpoenas conjures up old memories of Watergate, even though the evidence of serious wrongdoing remains elusive.

White House spokesmen say they have already turned over 34,000 separate records and are being "as open as we can possibly be" with Congress and the separate investigation by an independent prosecutor based in Little Rock, Arkansas.

On the surface, however, the phone records lead to the First Lady's door. Foster's office allegedly contained documents on two issues that have embarrassed the First Family - the Whitewater real estate deal itself, and "Travelgate", when the Clintons were accused of cronyism in replacing staff at the White House travel office.

Amid all the conspiracy theories suggesting Foster was murdered, and unproven rumours of everything from his supposed affair with Mrs Clinton to a Colombian drug connection, the question of why outside investigators were barred from freely searching Foster's office has been one of the few substantive issues.

Senior Justice Department officials have said publicly that on the morning of 22 July 1993, two days after Foster's death, the White House counsel, Bernie Nussbaum, who had earlier agreed to allow them access to his files, suddenly went back on the deal. Mr Nussbaum, one of the Clintons' long-time Arkansas associates, subsequently resigned.

The phone records from that day show, however, that around 8am Miss Williams, Mrs Clinton's top aide, called her in Arkansas. Soon after a call went out from there to Mrs Thomases's room at a Washington hotel. One minute after it ended Mrs Thomases placed a call to Mr Nussbaum's pager number.

Senator D'Amato, whose history of dubious dealings is legendary, ran into some ethical problems of his own yesterday. The New York Times reported that influential Washington lobbyists had gathered regularly at his home for high-stakes poker. They dubbed themselves "The Fellas".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?