The Senate Whitewater Committee ended its work Tuesday bitterly divided. Democrats concluded President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton engaged in no wrongdoing, while majority Republicans launched a scathing attack on the first lady and several presidential aides.
"The American people deserve to know, and now can take comfort in knowing, that this yearlong investigation shows no misconduct or abuse of power by their president or first lady," the Democrats wrote in a dissenting report."The venom with which the majority focuses its attack on Hillary Rodham Clinton is surprising, even in the context of the investigation," the Democrats added.
Republicans took a sharply different view. Their report con-cludes that the first lady had a "powerful motive" to hide her law-firm billing records outlining her work a decade ago as a private lawyer for the failed Arkansas savings and loan at the center of the White-water investigation.
"History will judge these hearings as a revealing insight into the workings of an American presidency that misused its power, circumvented the limits on its authority and attempted to manipulate the truth," Committee chairman Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., said.The Republicans suggested Hillary Clinton may have wanted to conceal her knowledge of a fraudulent land development south of Little Rock, Ark., called Castle Grande. As evidence, it cited a last-minute sworn statement by former S&L executive Don Denton, who alleged last week she "summarily dismissed" his warning in 1986 that a Castle Grande loan transaction might be improper.
"The billing records and the evidence . . . indicate that Mrs. Clinton either had knowledge of or consciously avoided the fact that the Castle Grande transactions potentially violated bank regulations," the GOP wrote.
"That knowledge provides a powerful motive to protect the billing records from careful scrutiny by investigators."
The billing records were not turned over to investigators until early this year, two years after they were first subpoenaed. The White House said an aide to the first lady found them on a table in plain view in the White House living quarters.
The GOP report noted Hillary Clinton "had ordered the destruction of other documents relating" to her work for the S&L. "The billing records were the only documentary evidence available which reflected the true extent of Mrs. Clinton's role with respect to the fraudulent scheme."
The first lady has said she recalls very little about Castle Grande. Her lawyer, however, suggested that Denton made up the story.
The White House dismissed the GOP conclusions Tuesday as nothing new. Press secretary Mike McCurry praised Democrats for a "powerful document that puts into context what the committee has done at great expense to taxpayers for no other reason than to do political damage to the president."
But Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said the Republican report detailed "a pattern of attempted concealment at the very minimum" by the White House.
The Democratic report accused Republicans of stretching the evidence to smear Hillary Clinton.
"No attempt is made to place into perspective the relative importance to the American people of whether Mrs. Clinton has a specific recollection today of every memorandum, phone call and detail of every case she handled in her private law practice in Little Rock over a decade ago," the Democrats wrote.
The two sides also sharply disagreed about the accuracy of several presidential aides testimony.
The Republicans said there was inaccurate and incomplete testimony by three individuals - ex-White House counsel Bernard Nuss-baum, Hillary Clinton's chief of staff Margaret Williams and the first lady's confidante Susan Thomases.
The GOP report said the three concealed the first lady's role in the handling of documents in the late Vincent Foster's office following his July 1993 death. At the time, Foster had sensitive documents about both Whitewater and the purge of the White House travel office.
The committee said it would refer the matter to Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr.
The Republicans said they also did not believe then-Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell's testimony about a conversation he had with the first lady during visit to the White House on July 27 after Foster's funeral.
Democrats dismissed the allegations of a coverup as a "blatantly political game of tag." They noted Williams had passed two lie detector tests corroborating her testimony that she did not remove documents from Foster's office on the night of his death.
The Democrats accused their GOP counterparts of making "irresponsible claims of possible obstruction of justice that simply ignore the testimony of law enforcement officials."