- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Democratic Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman yesterday backtracked to say he will subpoena former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin "in a minute" if he determines that Mr. Rubin can shed light on the Enron collapse.
"If Mr. Rubin would add something, I don't have any hesitation to call him," said Mr. Lieberman, chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee. "So we'll see."
Democrats have tried to blame recent corporate scandals on Republican policies, and Republicans say calling Mr. Rubin on the carpet would undercut their political strategy.
Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, told The Washington Times last week that he had no plans to call Mr. Rubin, a Citigroup official who asked the Bush administration to intervene with Wall Street credit-rating agencies on behalf of Enron when those agencies were about to downgrade Enron's ratings.
He also said the decision whether to question Mr. Rubin was up to a Democratic colleague, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan.
But faced with increasing calls for Mr. Rubin to testify before Congress, Mr. Lieberman this week said he is open to hearing from the former Clinton administration official. He denied that public pressure had changed his thinking.
"I really should have added [last week] that, if any point we feel Mr. Rubin would add something, I don't have any hesitation to call him," Mr. Lieberman said. "Frankly, certain folks are pushing for Rubin to be called for what might be called political reasons. I think I can speak for Senator Levin. We're into an investigation, two parts. If Rubin can add anything to either of those investigations, I'd call him in a minute."
Asked what he is doing to determine whether Mr. Rubin's testimony would be helpful, Mr. Lieberman indicated that he hasn't looked into the matter lately but plans to announce this fall a schedule for more hearings in January, after the election.
"Right now, I've been focused on homeland security," he said. "My committee staff has really sort of set aside the Enron [investigation]. My hope is that I'll come back into this over the recess. And my plan is, as soon as we get homeland security adopted in the Senate, that we'll begin to schedule hearings in our Enron investigation in September or October."
Committee Republicans who have debated pressuring Mr. Lieberman to call Mr. Rubin as a witness say they doubt he would do so.
"I don't think if we insisted on calling Robert Rubin that the chairman would do it," said Sen. Jim Bunning, Kentucky Republican. "I know Joe Lieberman."
Mr. Lieberman said last week the decision to question Mr. Rubin was up to Mr. Levin, chairman of a subcommittee investigating Enron's internal practices. Mr. Levin said he had no interest in calling Mr. Rubin, chairman of Citigroup's executive committee, preferring instead to question Citigroup's chief executive officer. Citigroup is Enron's largest creditor.
Republicans on the panel said they have been exploring Mr. Rubin's involvement in the Enron bankruptcy but haven't decided whether to press for his testimony.
"I've been looking at some of the documents we got from Citicorp to try to determine his involvement," said Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican. "There's some documents on which there's 'R. Rubin.' But I'm not sure it's the same Rubin. So we've still got some work to do on that."
A switchboard operator at Citigroup said yesterday the firm employs four Rubins whose first name begins with 'R' a Richard, two Roberts and a Rhonda. The former Treasury secretary could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Bunning said Mr. Rubin has shown an ability to talk at length in congressional hearings without really answering the questions posed by lawmakers.
"He would take one question and filibuster the answer," Mr. Bunning said. "He does that all the time when he appears before committees. I call it obnoxious rather than smooth."
The panel's ranking Republican, Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, said it "probably would be a good idea" to call Mr. Rubin. But Mr. Thompson said he has not been pressing Mr. Lieberman to question Mr. Rubin and was not aware of Mr. Lieberman's plan to hold more hearings.
A USA Today/Gallup poll released yesterday showed that 65 percent of respondents said Republicans in Congress are more concerned with the interests of large corporations than ordinary people, while 36 percent said the same thing about Democrats.
Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Republican conference, said Democrats should be willing to pursue witnesses from both parties in the corporate scandals.
"It's outrageous that they go around beating up all of these corporate fat cats, and one of the biggest fat cats, Robert Rubin, is now clearly implicated, or Citibank is clearly implicated in some of the corporate accounting scandals when he was there," Mr. Santorum said. "Not to have him come and account as they have made other folks come and account is purely political. If this was a former Republican secretary of the Treasury, I guarantee you that he would have been called up here a long time ago."
He said it would take great political courage for Mr. Lieberman to subpoena Mr. Rubin.
"It would not be a popular thing for him to do," Mr. Santorum said. "It would not enamor him to the Democratic faithful around the country."

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