Rep. Dan Burton says he will release full transcripts of 54 of Webster Hubbell's taped telephone calls from prison, in a move to quiet accusations that he deleted references favorable to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Clinton supporters and Hubbell's lawyer say Burton twisted the meaning of the tapes by selectively releasing excerpts last week that deleted Hubbell's assertion that the first lady was innocent of wrongdoing and that Hubbell was not paid hush money to stop him from cooperating with the Whitewater investigation.In Washington, Burton said investigators from his House Government Reform and Oversight Committee had carefully excluded any material that would invade the privacy of Hubbell and his wife, Suzy. He said he was prepared to release the full transcripts.
"How (Burton) can possibly pretend to conduct an impartial and fair set of hearings in this matter is beyond belief," former Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Separately, Republicans say Attorney General Janet Reno should change her mind and appoint another independent counsel to investigate the campaign fund-raising activities of Democrats and the White House.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who met recently with the Justice Department's top prosecutor on campaign finance, said Sunday that Reno will be presented with new evidence, and she "will have no choice but to appoint an independent counsel in the campaign finance thing."
But Charles La Bella, the chief investigator, said that while he did urge Reno last year to seek an outside counsel to look into fund-raising phone calls President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore made from the White House, he was "completely comfortable" with her decision not to do so.
Since then, La Bella said, Reno regularly has consulted with him, and "I always give her my candid advice."
On Sunday's NBC program, Burton, R-Ind., was confronted with two of Hubbell's taped conversations with his wife in 1996 about the Whitewater investigation. In one, Hubbell said Hillary Clinton "just had no idea what was going on" at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock regarding any billing irregularities by attorneys.
Hubbell was serving a sentence at a Cumberland, Md., federal prison after pleading guilty to defrauding the law firm and its clients while he and the first lady were Rose partners.
In another tape, Hubbell said that despite suggestions that friends of the Clintons were buying Hubbell's silence in paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees, "we know that's not true."
Burton said one of the already released excerpts includes Hubbell saying that "when it all boils down they can't say" Hillary Clinton did anything wrong.