- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2000

Nearly every time Al Gore opens his mouth his credibility takes another hit. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the vice president's unbelievable assertions about his role in the widespread campaign-finance illegalities that helped re-elect the Clinton-Gore administration in 1996. Indeed, as Jerry Seper of The Washington Times reported recently, even a certified "friend of Bill" Robert Litt, who has been a high-level Justice Department official since 1994 strongly recommended twice in 1998 that Attorney General Janet Reno seek the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate whether Mr. Gore lied to law-enforcement officials probing his role in the fund-raising scandal.
In one interview, he contemptuously told investigators that an excessive amount of iced-tea consumption required him to visit the the rest room at the very moment the agenda of the meeting turned to discussion of the need to raise regulated hard money to help finance the $50 million TV-advertising campaign financed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) before and during the 1996 primaries. Mr. Gore has long denied he knew he was raising hard money from his White House telephone calls, which would have been illegal. The vice president's denials were too much even for Mr. Litt, a former law partner of David Kendall, President Clinton's personal attorney, to accept at face value. "One could infer that Gore knew what he claimed he did not know: that the [DNC's] media campaign was paid for, in part, with hard money," Mr. Litt wrote in November 1998. "Gore was unquestionably present at a meeting at which it appears the hard-money component to the media campaign was discussed. In addition, he was sent a large number of memos which made reference to the same topic." Mr. Litt was "not sufficiently convinced" by Mr. Gore's answers, arguing that Mr. Gore "could have concluded that evidence of his state of mind about hard and soft money would be relevant to the [Justice] department's investigation (as in fact it was) and thus determined to lie about that."
Two months earlier, in September 1998, Mr. Litt wrote a memo citing "specific information from a credible source" that Mr. Gore "may have lied to us" in claiming no knowledge that unregulated soft-money donations he sought may have been illegally diverted to federally regulated hard-money DNC accounts. "The statement of a person without apparent reason to lie, corroborated by notes taken by an aide to the vice president," Mr. Litt argued in the September memo, "form[s] a basis for concluding that the vice president did know what he claimed not to know or certainly for investigating whether he may have." Mr. Litt noted it was "not uncommon" to bring perjury charges "where the defendant's statements are contradicted by documents," to say nothing of contradictory testimony offered by others participating in the meeting.
Mr. Litt thus joined FBI Director Louis Freeh and Charles LaBella Miss Reno's hand-picked director of the department's campaign-finance task force in strongly recommending the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate Mr. Gore. How much longer must the line grow before his credibility, and Janet Reno's, shrinks to nothing?

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