According to Martens' memo, Dale told him: "I have been here 31 years, and no one has seen fit to replace me with a commercial operation yet. So until they do, I will continue to handle this without your help."
In any case, Dale's reaction "ticked me off," Thomason said. "The idea of a government bureaucrat refusing to even consider doing business with someone." Shortly thereafter "I mentioned it to the President. I told him: 'You know, I think you've got a problem. But I'm not going to bore you with all the details of it.' "
Instead, Thomason said, he told White House administrative director David Watkins about his concerns. There the matter rested until May 10, when Thomason and Martens, both of whom were in Washington on other business, met with Watkins to discuss the travel office. Two days later, Watkins contacted the White House counsel's office, where associate counsel William Kennedy recommended that he hire outside auditors to review the office's records. Kennedy also contacted the FBI.
On May 15, FBI agents met with auditors from KPMG Peat Marwick to review the preliminary findings of the audit, which discovered poor record-keeping and inadequate documentation for the office's activities. Watkins then fired the travel office staff on Wednesday.
Saturday marked the first trip since the old travel staff was removed, and White House officials dearly hoped that all would go smoothly. But it was not to be. The airplane chartered to ferry the press to Clinton's speech in New Hampshire broke down on the runway at Andrews Air Force Base, delaying the press corps' departure by nearly two hours. On the return trip, the plane was late in arriving, leaving the press corps waiting.
"I think Murphy's Law is definitely operative here," Myers said.
Lauter reported from Washington and Broder from New Hampshire.