- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 28, 1999

President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton would shatter the record reimbursement request if they ask taxpayers to pay their $5 million in remaining legal bills.
Fifty government officials have sought repayments since the Independent Counsel Statute's fee-reimbursement provision took effect in 1983.
The court that administers the statute has awarded a total of $4.4 million to 32 of the petitioners, according to a study by Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
"If the Clintons sought the full $5 million" stemming from the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky affairs, "it would be far greater than any amount ever sought under the statute," the study says.
"The taxpayers not only paid for [independent counsel] Ken Starr's investigation and the impeachment process, but likely will be left holding the bag for yet another set of lawyers' fees."
Mr. Clinton seemed to say in a CNN interview telecast Thursday that he is unlikely to ask taxpayers to reimburse his legal fees.
"I've never considered doing that," Mr. Clinton told interviewer Larry King. "I may be entitled to do it, but my instinct is not to do it."
But Mrs. Clinton's spokesmen have refused even to answer such questions.
"Any consideration is entirely premature," says David Kendall, the Clintons' private attorney. "The Clintons have a legal-defense trust to raise money for their legal expenses. Hopefully, that will be sufficient."
Such a request could become a political problem for Mrs. Clinton, who is running for a Senate seat in New York.
The Stanford Law Review first published Miss Clark's findings in November 1997. The professor recently updated a chart of reimbursement requests and awards under the statute.
The special court that administers the law awarded a total of $1.5 million to 19 persons in the Iran-Contra investigation.
Clair E. George, a former CIA deputy director of operations, sought a record reimbursement of nearly $1.3 million in legal fees stemming from that investigation, according to Miss Clark's study.
Mr. George was convicted on two felony counts of lying to Congress. President Bush pardoned Mr. George on Christmas Eve 1992.
But the special court denied Mr. George's petition for reimbursement because the pardon did not expunge his indictment, according to Miss Clark.
President Reagan sought $777,652 and was awarded $562,111. Mr. Bush sought $461,347 and received $272,352.
The Clintons still owe about $5 million in legal fees, and contributions to their legal trust have dwindled.
"The latest saga demonstrates the excesses of the Independent Counsel Statute and shows why Congress did not renew it," Miss Clark said.
"We will be hearing about these Ken Starr-related legal-fee reimbursement requests for years to come."
In the CNN interview, Mr. Clinton accused the independent counsel's office of leaking to The Washington Post about a possible reimbursement request.
Independent counsel Robert W. Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr, says the claim is the latest example of the White House trying to undermine his investigation.
"That claim is false," Mr. Ray said in a statement issued Friday. "This is yet another attempt, in an ongoing effort by the White House, to impugn the integrity of a duly constituted law-enforcement investigation through false accusations."
Mr. Ray's office will issue a final report on the Whitewater investigation and will decide whether to pursue an indictment of Mr. Clinton after he leaves office for making false statements under oath about the Lewinsky affair.

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