TOPICS > Politics

Public Or Private?

May 12, 1997 at 12:00 AM EDT


KWAME HOLMAN: As darkness fell on January 26, 1996, Hillary Rodham Clinton emerged from four hours of testimony before a Washington, D.C. grand jury investigating the Clintons’ 1980′s land deal known as Whitewater.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Well, you’re all still here I see.

KWAME HOLMAN: Shortly afterward, Mrs. Clinton discussed her grand jury testimony at the White House with her personal attornies.

Also in the meeting were lawyers from the White House Counsel’s Office, lawyers paid by the government. Almost a year ago Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr subpoenaed notes from that conversation and another one Mrs. Clinton had with both sets of lawyers in the summer of 1995. Starr claimed because government lawyers were in the room the conversations are not protected by the doctrine of attorney-client privilege.

The Clintons say they are, and after being ordered by a federal appeals court to turn over the notes to Starr, the White House authorized an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a speech in Arkansas over the weekend Starr said not having the notes poses a significant impediment to his ongoing investigation.

He laid out why he’s entitled to notes from the lawyers’ meetings.

KENNETH STARR: White House attorneys are in a different category. They represent the government, and ultimately, they represent we, the people, and, as such, they are duty bound to disclose relevant information to a federal grand jury.

KWAME HOLMAN: Speaking Saturday in Barbados, President Clinton referred generally to the controversy.

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think that it’s obvious that for several years now we’ve been quite cooperative, and we’ll continue to be.

KWAME HOLMAN: But the President’s lawyers were more explicit. In papers filed with the Supreme Court Attorney Andrew Frey said turning over the notes to Starr will substantially impair the ability of the Office of the President to secure sound legal advice, particularly in the face of independent counsel investigations. The Supreme Court is expected to decide by next month whether to hear the Clintons’ appeal.