- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr overlooked “rules, procedures and decency” when leading a series of investigations against President Clinton and presided over “a low moment in American history,” according to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoirs.

“I have not read the Starr report, but I’ve been told that the word sex (or some variation of it) appears 581 times in the 445-page report,” Mrs. Clinton, New York Democrat, wrote of Mr. Starr’s investigation, which she also categorized as “a Soviet-style show trial.”

In “Living History,” which was released yesterday, Mrs. Clinton lays out defenses to the various scandals, including Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky, that consumed her husband’s two terms in office and culminated in his impeachment.

She dismisses Mr. Starr, appointed by Congress to investigate Mr. Clinton, as “a man whose sense of moral superiority justified overlooking rules, procedures and decency” and said the probes he led from 1994 to 1999 produced nothing but a “dry hole.”

Whitewater — with Troopergate, Filegate and other Clinton scandals — is categorized as the product of a “culture of investigation” by Mrs. Clinton. She calls each “a weapon for political destruction” aimed at a fledgling power couple attuned to Arkansas, not Washington.

She says they weren’t quite up to White House speed, and all those investigations were the result of “faltering missteps of a new administration being literally turned into federal cases.”

“Bill and I failed to recognize the political significance of Whitewater’s sudden reappearances, which may have contributed to some public relations mistakes in how we handled the growing controversy,” she said.

The investigation into the Arkansas real estate deal known as Whitewater, which warrants a whole chapter in Mrs. Clinton’s book, “came to represent a limitless investigation of our lives … and never turned up any wrongdoing on our part.”

And while much of the press coverage of Mrs. Clinton’s memoirs has focused on her husband’s infidelity and domestic strife in the White House, Mrs. Clinton fights some old battles.

She says the removal of personal files related to Whitewater from aide Vince Foster’s White House office after his 1993 suicide was justified.

“Since Vince’s office was never a crime scene, these actions were understandable, legal and justifiable. But they would spawn a cottage industry of conspiracy theorists and investigators trying to prove Vince was murdered to cover up what he ‘knew about Whitewater.’”

During the Whitewater investigation, long-missing billing records from Mrs. Clinton’s Rose Law Firm were subpoenaed by the investigating committee. The records, according to press reports at the time, “mysteriously” turned up at the White House in late 1995.

Mrs. Clinton offers an explanation of this event in a lengthy narrative about David Kendall, the Clintons’ attorney during the Whitewater investigation.

Mr. Kendall received the records from Carolyn Huber, an aide charged with finding documents requested by the investigating committee. In the initial confusion of the Clintons’ move into the White House in 1993, Miss Huber found the records but was “unaware of their significance” and tossed them into a box to be sorted through in the future.

Months later, “she unfolded the papers and recognized them as the long-lost billing records,” Mrs. Clinton wrote.

“She handed him a sheaf of papers. David quickly realized what they were: a 1992 computer printout detailing the legal work I and others had done at the Rose Law Firm for Madison Guaranty back in 1985-86.

“Although Madison Guaranty billing records were included in the special counsel’s subpoenas, the logical place to find them was in the records of the Rose Firm and Madison Guaranty,” Mrs. Clinton wrote.

“Their absence in our records did not surprise David or me, although we were anxious for them to appear, since I was certain they would support my recollection about what little legal work I had done. I was relieved that they had finally been found.

“‘Where on earth have they been?’ I asked him.

“‘I don’t know,’ said David. ‘Carolyn was going through a box of papers in her office and came across them. As soon as she realized what they were, she sent me the note.’”

Mrs. Clinton later concluded that the papers “would corroborate what I had been saying all along; that my work for McDougal’s savings and loan so many years ago had been minimal, in time and compensation.”

Mrs. Clinton was not too impressed by Filegate, the nickname for a 1998 investigation by conservative legal group Judicial Watch that said that FBI files of some Reagan administration officials were gathered by the Clinton White House for “political purposes and disseminated in a manner that violated privacy laws,” according to a CNN account at the time.

“Like every other investigation on the independent counsel’s portfolio, Filegate was a dry hole,” Mrs. Clinton wrote.

The “vast right-wing conspiracy” surfaces in the book as well.

“Nearly a decade would pass before we learned the full, chilling story behind what became known as ‘troopergate,’” Mrs. Clinton wrote.

Writer David Brock detailed in a 1993 American Spectator article the assertions of Arkansas state troopers who said they had “procured” women for Mr. Clinton when he was governor. But Mr. Brock recanted the story in his 2002 book, saying he had been paid by “secret patrons” to muckrake against the Clintons.

And one day in 1998, Mrs. Clinton came face to face with Richard Mellon Scaife, who she called “the reactionary billionaire who had bankrolled the long-term campaign to destroy Bill’s Presidency.”

He was in a reception line for financial donors of a White House restoration fund during a black-tie dinner there. Mrs. Clinton greeted him like any other guest.

“But I was astonished that he chose to stand in line to meet the enemy,” she wrote.

Travelgate, about the firing of the staff at the White House travel office so the Clinton administration could “get our people in there,” proved to be a learning experience for Mrs. Clinton about how comments travel through the White House.

“I’m not sure I ever learned so much so fast about the consequences of saying or doing anything before knowing exactly what was going on,” she writes in her book, explaining that she simply asked a staffer to “look into” accounts of irregularities in the travel office.

It turned into the Clintons’ “disastrously inauspicious first date with the White House press,” whom Mrs. Clinton had never charmed.

“Because I wanted the media to report on health care reform … it took me a while to understand their resentment was justified,” she recalled.

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