once upon a time in arkansas
The Clinton's Statements on Whitewater

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON'S APRIL 22, 1994 WHITE HOUSE NEWS CONFERENCE

Question: Is there any evidence whatsoever to lead anyone to suspect there's any obstruction of justice involved, or that the White House said anything that would lead the people to call off their investigation or to think about it?

Mrs. Clinton: Not that I'm aware of. No.

Question: Can you tell us what you know about the shredding of Whitewater documents down in Arkansas?

Mrs. Clinton: Nothing.

Question: ...particularly at the governor's mansion?

Mrs. Clinton: Oh, that didn't happen and I know nothing about any other such stories.

Question: You know nothing about documents relating to Whitewater ever spreading anywhere that you authorized or didn't authorize?

Mrs. Clinton: Absolutely not.

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Mrs. Clinton: I feel very confident about how this will all turn out. This is not a long-term problem or issue in any way. But I don't want anyone to have the wrong impressions of either of us. I don't want anything to interfere with doing what the people of this country need done.

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Question: My follow-up has to do with the death of Mr. Foster. The way his office was sealed and people who were in it...There's been a lot of criticism of the papers in Mr. Foster's office -- that some may have been removed.

Mrs. Clinton: Well, you know, I know there's been a lot of concern and criticism about that. I cannot speak to that in any detail. But I know that the special counsel is looking into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Foster's death and I assume he will issue a report about that which I hope will put all these matters to rest once and for all..

Question: The Whitewater development was set up as a fifty-fifty partnership between the Clintons and the McDougals meaning that you were liable for fifty percent of the losses or fifty percent of the gains and yet by your own accounting you lost half or even maybe a third of what the McDougals lost this according to the Lyons report, Doesn' t that discrepancy represent some sort of a gift or gratuity?

Mrs. Clinton: No, and let me say that yes, the ownership of the corporation was fifty-fifty. The liability on the underlying debt was a 100 percent for each one of us. There was no gift in that. When my husband and I signed that mortgage and when we re-signed guarantees, we assumed the whole responsibility. I mean if Jim had gone into bankruptcy early on, if Susan had left -- we would not have only fifty percent of the obligation we would have 100 percent of the obligation.

Question: But why was it that the McDougals lost so much more money than you did? I don't understand that.

Mrs. Clinton: I can't answer that. I mean we gave whatever we were requested to give by Jim McDougal. He was the one who would say here's what you owe on interest . Here's what your contribution should be. We did what he asked us, we saw no records , we saw no documents. He was someone that my husband had known a very long time. He was someone who had been in real estate with many people we knew including Senator Fulbright and we just assumed that whatever he needed he would ask for and we didn't have any information to the contrary.

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PRESIDENT CLINTON'S MARCH 1994 WHITE HOUSE PRESS CONFERENCE:

Question: Increasingly, polls are showing that more and more Americans are unsure whether you acted properly in Whitewater that maybe you did something wrong, does that concern you and when do you think it would be proper for the First Lady to answer questions about Whitewater?

Clinton: Does it concern me? Only a little bit, the truth is...I'm amazed when I read in the New York Times or some place today that there had been three times as much coverage of Whitewater than there had been health care. I'm amazed that there hadn't been more change in the polls. I think that what the American people are really upset about is the thought that this investment that we made sixteen years ago lost money - that did not involve savings and loans - might somehow divert any of us from doing the work of the country, getting the economy going, dealing with healthcare and crime and the other issues. So, in that sense, I think people are right to be concerned and they want to know that I'm going to answer the questions. A lot of people don't even know, I don't think, that there is a special counsel that we have fully cooperated, that he has said we have. That the Watergate prosecutor, Sam Dash, contrasted our conduct with previous Presidents' and said we've been highly ethical and we're moving forward.

Now, the First Lady has done several interviews, she was out in three different places last week answering questions exhaustively from the press. I think she will continue to do that. And if you have questions you want to ask to ask her about this. I think you ought to ask the questions.

Question: Mr. President, one thing that's bothered a lot of people is that why - if you did nothing wrong - why did you act for so long as if you had something to hide? And now that you're about to release these documents to the public, your tax records and other things, do you think it would have helped if you had released these documents to the public earlier? Would it have stopped this issue from reaching the proportions that it has?

Clinton: I don't have any idea. But I don't think I acted as if I had anything to hide. After all, I had already given out my tax returns going back to 1980. And then when the furor arose for a special counsel, even when everybody at the time said 'we don't think he's done anything wrong there's no evidence that he or the First Lady have done anything wrong-we still think there ought to be a special counsel' - I said we would give all this over to the special counsel.

It was only after the special counsel had all the information that the people who first wanted the special counsel then decided they wanted the documents as well. So, we're making them available. Perhaps I should have done it earlier but you will see essentially what I've told you that things that you basically already know.

We certainly know that no one in the White House, at least to the best of my knowledge, has tried to use any information to in any way improperly influence the RTC or any federal agency. Would it have been better if those meetings would not have occurred? Yes, I think it would have been. Do we have people here who wouldn't do anything wrong but perhaps weren't sensitive enough to have something they could look in retrospect by people who were used to having problems in a Presidency or used to people not having tell them the truth? I think that we weren't as sensitive as we should have been and I said before it would have been better if that hadn't occurred.

The one thing you have to say - you learn things as you go along in this business. None of this, in the light of history, will remotely be as important as by the common consensus we had the most productive first year of a presidency last year of anyone in a generation. That's what matters, that were changing people's lives. That's what counts. I'm just going to keep working on it.

Question: So many things have happened since this Whitewater story broke or resurfaced depending on your point of view. Your counsel has resigned, a number of your top aides have been subpoenaed because of their contacts with Treasury officials in on the investigation. I'm curious - who do you blame more than anything else for the Whitewater mess that the administration is in right now?

Clinton: Well, I don't think it's useful to get into blame. I think what's important is that I answer the questions that you have...that are legitimate questions, that I fully cooperate with the special counsel which was requested widely by the press and by the members of the Republican party and who is himself a Republican. That we fully cooperate and we've done that. Senator Inouye from Hawaii said that 'I've been experienced in investigations. You folks have claimed no executive privilege, you've fully cooperated. No one can quarrel with that.'


ANOTHER MARCH 1994 PRESIDENTIAL PRESS CONFERENCE:

Clinton: "Number one, we are not covering up or anything. We are opening up. We are disclosing. We are giving you information.

Question: Are you concerned Mr. President by the statement that Mr. McDougal and the prosecutor - that there is new evidence, new documents which, according to the suggestion - things coming out of there that might cause you or Mrs. Clinton further trouble?

Clinton: No. For obvious reasons, go back look at the RTC report, look at all the evidence that's ever come out on this. We did not do anything wrong, we had nothing to do with all these business matters that were the subject of the trial. No, I'm not worried at all.



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