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EXCERPTS: Clinton Supports 'Clearing the Way for Hearings'

March 25, 1994|From Federal News Service

Following are excerpts from President Clinton's news conference Thursday:

. . . I know that many people around America must believe that Washington is overwhelmingly preoccupied with the Whitewater matter. But our Administration is preoccupied with the business we were sent here to do for the American people.

The investigation of Whitewater is being handled by an independent special counsel whose appointment I supported. Our cooperation with that counsel has been total. We have supplied over 14,000 documents, my tax returns dating back to 1978, and made available every Administration witness he has sought.

I support the actions of the House and the Senate clearing the way for hearings at an appropriate time that does not interfere with Mr. Fiske's responsibilities, and I will fully cooperate with their work as well.

Tax Returns to 1977

Tomorrow, I will make available my tax returns dating back to 1977 when I first held public office. Cooperation, disclosure and doing the people's business are the order of the day. . . . Question: You just said that you would release your tax returns back to 1977. Questions also have been raised about whether you made money or lost money in your Whitewater investment. Do you still believe that you lost about $70,000, and do you have any reason to believe that you owe any back taxes?

Answer: I am certain that we lost money. I do not believe we owe any back taxes. If it is determined that we do, of course we will pay. I am now sure that we lost something less than $70,000 based on an interview I heard on television--or I heard about on television with Jim McDougal on one of the networks where he said that he felt that one of the loans I had taken from a bank where we also borrowed money for the land development corporation--he said he thought one of those was a personal loan.

So I started racking my brain to try to remember what that might have been. And by coincidence, I was also rereading the galleys of my mother's autobiography, just fact-checking it, and I noticed that she mentioned there something that I had genuinely forgotten, which is that I helped her to purchase the property and what was then a cabin on the place that she and her husband, Dick Kelly, lived back in 1981, and that I was a co-owner of that property with her for just a few months.

After they married, he bought my interest out. So that's where that--I borrowed the money to go in in that investment. I paid the money back with interest. That was unrelated to Whitewater.

All the other losses we have documented to date we believe clearly are tied to the investment Hillary and I made in Whitewater. So we in fact lost some $20,700 less than the Lyons report indicated because that loan came from a different place, and then--or came for different purposes. And there was another $1,500 payment I made on it, so whatever the total in the Lyons report was should be--you should distract--or subtract from that $20,700 and another $1,500. And we believe we can document that clearly. . . .

Question: Do you know of any funds, any money--Whitewater seems to be about money--having gone into any of your gubernatorial campaigns or into Whitewater, particularly federally insured money? Do you know of any money that could have gone in?

Answer: No. I have no knowledge of that. I have absolutely no knowledge of that.

Question: You just mentioned James McDougal, your former business partner. A lot of questions have been raised about his business practices. Can you tell us what drew you to him to begin with and whether or not you still have faith now that he was--that he is an honest businessman?

Answer: Well, I can tell you that, when I entered my relationship with him . . . I knew Mr. McDougal and had known him for many years. I met him in the late '60s when he was running Sen. Fulbright's office in Arkansas. I knew that sometime around that time, perhaps later, he got into the real estate business. . . .

Money Loss No Surprise

The reason we lost money on Whitewater is not surprising. A lot of people did at that time. Interest rates, as you'll remember, went through the roof in the early '80s. People stopped immigrating to my state to retire, at least in the numbers they had all during the '70s. And the market simply changed.

So we didn't sell as many lots, and the venture was not successful. So we lost the money. Principally the money I lost was on the interest payments I had to make on the loans which were never reimbursed because the venture never turned a profit. . . .

Question: Congressman Leach made some very dramatic charges today. He said the Whitewater is really about the arrogance of power. And he didn't just mean back in Arkansas. He said that federal regulators tried to stop investigators for the Resolution Trust Corp. in Kansas City from putting Whitewater into their criminal referrals. That would amount to a cover-up and possibly obstruction of justice. Do you have any knowledge of that?

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