WASHINGTON -- In the first Whitewater salvo tired by the incoming Senate Banking Committee, nine GOP lawmakers have asked independent counsel Kenneth Starr to review testimony given by two key administration officials.

A 12-page letter from the senators outlined purported contradictions in the testimony given by senior White House aides George Stephanopolous, and Harold Ickes during the committee's investigative hearings this year.

"We have asked independent counsel Start to examine the record and determine if there are contradictions in this testimony and if these individuals were indeed truthful with the committee," said Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., in a written statement.

John Rippey, legislative director for the Bankers Roundtable, said this early restarting of the Whitewater investigation could be a good sign for the industry.

"It depends how long the Senate prolongs this, but if they just get it over and deal with it early on, that's good news," Mr. Rippey said. "It would clear the decks" for banking legislation.

The lawmakers' letter juxtaposed excerpts from transcripts of Mr. Stephanopolous' testimony in an effort to illustrate how he changed his account of whether he had said he wanted lay Stephens fired.

Mr. Stephens, a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, was a vocal critic of President Clinton whose hiring to head a Resolution Trust Corp. investigation into the failed Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan angered the presidential aide..

The COP senators also said that the truthfulness of Mr. Ickes' testimony "may be seriously questioned" because of differing accounts he gave of a Feb. 2 meeting with then Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman.

The letter said that Mr. Ickes had changed his story about whether Mr. Altman mentioned the possibility of the RTC's filing a lawsuit to preserve its ability to finish the investigation in light of an expiring statute of limitations.

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