On Tuesday, the day before the new Congress was scheduled to convene, the Senate Banking Committee's Republican and Democratic leaders released separate -and contradictory - reports on the panel's Whitewater investigation. Here are excerpts from the report filed by the GOP lawmakers who are set to take control of the panel today.
Many witnesses were less than fully candid with the Committee. We have twice written to the independent counsel urging him to examine specific cases of suspected false testimony and to take appropriate action. Copies of those letters are included in these views.
Despite the spectacle of high ranking administration officials being chastised and reprimanded by Democrats and Republicans during televised hearings, and the resignation of certain individuals under duress, it is perhaps a commentary on this administration's standards and values that, to our knowledge, no action has been initiated to pursue or refer cases involving possible false statements made to the committee in public hearings or to investigators in sworn depositions. . . .
The (Resolution Trust Corp.) considers criminal referrals to be highly sensitive and entitled to the utmost protection.
This policy has been communicated to the RTC's investigative and legal staff. The confidential treatment accorded criminal referrals was made clear to Jean Hanson, the general counsel of the Treasury Department.
According to William Roelle, a career government employee serving as the RTC's senior vice president and chief financial officer, Ms. Hanson indicated to him that she would advise Roger Altman, then deputy secretary of the Treasury and interim CEO of the RTC, of the confidential nature of this information. While Hanson claims no memory of this, Mr. Roelle has no motive to lie, and his recollection is consistent with his general practice and that of his agency. Mr. Roelle's testimony is credible and should be accepted. . . .
On March 15, 1993, Roger Altman was named interim chief executive officer of the RTC. In an RTC staff meeting held on March 23, 1993, Altman asked that he be apprised of issues involving high-profiled individuals. At the end of the staff meeting, Altman was advised by Mr. Roelle that a 1992 Madison criminal referral mentioned the Clintons as possible witnesses. Almost immediately, and again on the following day, Altman faxed to then White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum several New York Times articles relating to Madison-Whitewater.
Mr. Altman acted promptly to obtain the relevant files and set up a line of communication about this subject with the White House. This communication was not an afterthought or simply an innocent "FYI" transmittal of currently circulating news articles that might be of interest to another party.
Rather, the March 1993 faxing of year-old news articles by the head of the RTC to the White House was at the very least an unmistakable signal to the White House - the first of many - that the Madison/Whitewater matter was of current interest to the RTC and that Altman was sensitive to its political implications. . . .
The administration attempts to justify the numerous meetings and frequent conversations between Treasury officials and White House staff in September and October 1993 as legitimate briefings necessary to advise the White House of possible press inquiries. Contrary to the rationale proffered by White House and Treasury Department officials, there is no exception to this confidentiality requirement for purposes of responding to press inquiries. The "press leak" rationale does not justify the disclosure to the White House of the existence and details of criminal referrals that mention the President and Mrs. Clinton. . . .
The Treasury, RTC, and White House officials who participated in briefings on the Madison criminal referrals described above committed two separate breaches of propriety. First, they violated the statutory wall of separation between the RTC and the Treasury Department. Second, they breached the confidentiality of law enforcement information by giving it to the White House. In short, the administration deliberately circumvented well-accepted restraints on executive branch behavior in the service of political ends.
Congress specifically intended a separation between the RTC and the rest of the administration, including the secretary of the Treasury (in his role as chairman of the oversight board), for case specific matters. . . .
At a Feb. 2, 1994, meeting with White House staff, Mr. Altman disclosed that the RTC's investigation into civil claims against the Clintons would probably not be finished, and a determination as to whether or not to bring a suit could not be made, before the then applicable statute of limitations.
This was not merely discussing legal procedure; it was revealing the bottom line of the investigation. Roger Altman told the White House the single most important fact about the investigation, that it probably would not be concluded until after the statute of limitations had expired...
Altman claimed not to know of the Treasury/White House contacts in the Fall of 1993. He misled Congress about the true nature of his meeting with White House officials on Feb. 2. He transmitted false and misleading letters to the committee in an attempt to "correct" his oral testimony. And he continued his deceptions under oath when he testified before the committee this past August.
The significance of Mr. Altman's malfeasance in this regard cannot be overemphasized.