No attack on the Clinton’s is a more perfect illustration of the phrase “there is no there, there” than the pseudo-scandal known as “Whitewater”. There is no better example of the lengths to which Conservatives will go to undermine and attack anything and everything Clinton. Most of those who understood and experienced the all-consuming fire brought by Clinton antagonists have to admit that it was an effective effort that created incredible ill-will towards Bill and Hillary Clinton that still exists to this day. This ill-will is exhibited every day on the campaign trail as Hillary seeks the office of the Presidency. The truth about Whitewater is not elusive. The Clinton’s were completely exonerated as the process was brought to a close, and in fact, the Clinton’s were the only individuals who lost money in this failed investment scheme.
Whitewater began before Bill Clinton was elected and ended on the day before his second term concluded. Early on in the feeding frenzy known as Whitewater, the Clintons were completely exonerated by two investigations. The conclusions of those investigations were never proven to be wrong. However, the conclusions of those investigations did not fit the agenda of the political right wing.
Right wing ideologues invested millions of dollars fabricating accusations against the Clintons during this time. Once these accusations reached the media, they were turned into massive efforts to fan the flames of scandal. Media outlets were climbing all over one another to come up with stories related to the Clintons’ and their unlawful actions. Many members of the news media at that time are still on the job today. The Clintons became fair game as accusation piled upon accusation. The result was that no self-respecting Republican member of Congress would ever place himself in the media’s crosshairs by agreeing with, or working with Bill Clinton. To illustrate how these flames burn white-hot today, you have to look no farther than my Facebook feed which featured an article making claims about the list of people who stood against the Clintons who ended up dead. For those whose feeble thought processes lead them to believe in conspiracy theory, Clintons are arranging the deaths of certain individuals and the bodies keep piling up. There can be, and will be, no limit, to right-wing efforts to undermine Bill and Hillary Clinton and keep Hillary from becoming President of the United States.
Here is a perfect example of the media feeding frenzy. On March 4th 1994, the New York Times published a front-page article regarding Whitewater. “Grand Jury Is Reportedly Told Of Shredding At Little Rock Firm: One Box Had Initials of Aide Who Killed Himself”. Take a good look at all of the potential scandal in that title. Secret Grand Jury testimony leaked, shredding of documents, a dead law firm aide. Those Clinton’s must be corrupt. However, in the 28th paragraph of this hit-piece it was noted that the documents that were shredded had no relationship with anything related to Whitewater. Such was the media environment at that time. They completely shredded their own article when they mentioned it had nothing to do with Whitewater. It was an attempt to compare the Whitewater scandal with the destruction of documents during Watergate. If was very effective. It was a lie.
Republican members of Congress joined in the feeding frenzy. For example, Congressman James Leach began making accusations and promising a “block-buster” revelation about the Clintons. He claimed that the Clintons made money on their Whitewater investments. (They lost money). He claimed they used the funds to pay of campaign debts. (They didn’t). He claimed that the fraud committed by David Hale during the Whitewater investment was at the behest of the Clintons. (It wasn’t). From his official government office, Leach became a source of leads, suggestions and documents for all reporters covering Whitewater. Leach fell silent after the congressional Whitewater hearings produced no shred of evidence to support any of his charges. Silence is not apology. There was no apology to be heard.
In the summer of 1995, Senator Alfonse D’Amato, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee decided to hold Whitewater hearings. They lasted for 3 years. The Whitewater committee heard 159 witnesses, 20 of them more than once, took 281 depositions and processed more than 35,000 pages of documents provided by the Clintons. Newspapers reported that Hillary would be proven to be a perjurer, the President would be proved to be obstructing justice, and the “secret” files relating to the suicide death of Vincent Foster would be revealed. In the end, the committee could not prove that any charges against the Clintons were warranted. Three years, millions of dollars. No charges. The pattern continues.
As an interesting side note to the congressional investigation, L. Jean Lewis who had been hailed as a critical witness against the Clintons was completely rejected and proven to be without credibility. When confronted on the witness stand by Senator Paul Sarbanes regarding her testimony, she collapsed on the witness stand, crying and fainting. It was a dramatic scene illustrating, once again, the length that right-wing individuals would go to undermine the Clintons. Unfortunately for her, her testimony ended in tears and loss of consciousness as she was shamed in front of the committee. It was never reported in the press.
Attorney General Janet Reno chose Robert Fiske to investigate all things related to Whitewater as an independent counsel. Reno was acting under the instruction of Bill Clinton when establishing an independent counsel investigation. Clinton made the decision as a way of finally ending the scandal. Interestingly enough, Senate Republicans who had allowed the Independent Counsel Act two years earlier to lapse while a Republican President was in office, reversed themselves when a Democrat was in office. Prior to that time, Lawrence Walsh, a Republican Lawyer from Oklahoma, served as Independent Counsel during the Iran-Contra hearings. Those hearings resulted in eleven convictions of Reagan Administration officials and their accomplices. After those investigations, Republicans determined that the Office of the Independent Counsel represented a run-away fourth branch of Government. They brought it back for Bill Clinton.
Fiske moved quickly with his investigation. Five months after beginning the investigation he issued a definitive report clearing up the Vince Foster suicide and Clinton’s obstruction of justice. His report rightfully asserted that Vince Foster, the President’s personal attorney, had committed suicide after an intense bout with depression relating to the attacks on his personal character in the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets.
Subsequent work by the independent counsel resulted in indictment of Webster Hubbell and Arkansas Governor Jim “Guy” Tucker for bank-fraud schemes having nothing to do with Whitewater or the Clintons. In fact, Hillary Clinton turned out to be a victim of Hubbell who had embezzled money from the Rose Law firm that she worked for.
Within one year, the investigation of the independent counsel had been completed and the Clintons were exonerated from any and all wrong doing. End of story.
Maybe not….in my next post we will get into the efforts of recently demoted leader of Baylor University, Kenneth Starr, who lost his prized position as a leader of a terrific Southern Baptist University because of ignoring the claims of female students who were raped by members of the football team.
I couldn’t possibly include all of the information I wanted to in this post. For a fairly complete revelation of issues involving Whitewater see The Clinton Wars by Sidney Blumenthal. The well-documented text is 800 pages long and well worth the read.