Independent counsel: Hillary Clinton was involved in firings

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — First lady Hillary Clinton played a key part in the firings of White House travel office employees and made "factually inaccurate" statements to investigators when she denied a role in the matter, an independent counsel said Wednesday in a report that revisited one of the first major controversies of the Clinton administration.

Independent Counsel Robert Ray said Mrs. Clinton likely was the driving force behind the 1993 firings, even though she insisted she had no role. But Ray reported that he could not prove to a jury that Clinton either knowingly lied or obstructed justice during a series of investigations into the matter.

According to Ray, Clinton might not have realized that her concerns about the office led aides to fire the entire travel staff.

Ray’s decision to end a five-year investigation without criminal charges was announced in June, when he submitted a report on the travel office probe to a special three-judge panel. The report itself remained under seal until Wednesday, when the panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously agreed to make it public, along with written responses from Clinton’s lawyer and others, which were submitted in recent weeks.

The latest developments come as the first lady enters the final stretch of her Senate campaign in New York, where she is in a tight race with Republican Rep. Rick Lazio.

In New York on Wednesday, Clinton noted that she had said in June that she was glad Ray’s investigation was over "after all these years and millions of dollars. I really have nothing to add to that."

Lazio told reporters that "we believe that character counts in public service."

The investigation delved into allegations that Clinton and David Watkins, a former White House administration chief, lied or obstructed justice in connection with their 1995 statements about the May 1993 firings of seven travel office employees. The employees, responsible for arranging press travel, were fired and replaced with Clinton friends and relatives. Congressional critics said the firings appeared motivated by cronyism.

In a written response appended to the report, Hillary Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, wrote that Ray’s contention that she made factually false and inaccurate statements was "highly unfair and misleading." Kendall wrote that Ray’s report concluded that Hillary Clinton "may not even have been aware of any influence she may have had on the firing decision."

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