Official denies he OK'd search of Clinton files

November 15, 1992|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- In the latest episode of finger-pointing ove the search of Bill Clinton's passport files, a top State Department official, John F. W. Rogers, denies that he approved the search conducted in the midst of the presidential campaign.

Mr. Rogers, 36, the undersecretary of state for management, has also told federal investigators that he reported the search to Lawrence S. Eagleburger, the acting secretary of state, on Oct. 1, a day after the search began, and that he was concerned about how the search would be viewed.

His assertions directly contradict statements by a former department official, Elizabeth M. Tamposi. Ms. Tamposi, the assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, was dismissed Tuesday by President Bush for authorizing the search.

She has told investigators that the search was approved by Mr. Rogers and begun by one of her assistants, Carmen DePlacido, acting director of the passport office, without consulting her. She has also said that she told Mr. Rogers that the passport files had been tampered with.

State Department officials said yesterday that Mr. Eagleburger had recognized that the search could be politically explosive and considered informing the White House and Mr. Clinton but decided not to do so.

Instead, Mr. Eagleburger asked for an investigation by the department's inspector general, Sherman M. Funk, and said Mr. Funk should decide whether to inform Mr. Clinton and the White House.

The State Department has said that it searched passport files for information about Mr. Clinton in response to requests filed by journalists under the Freedom of Information Act.

The department acknowledged that it violated its own regulations by accelerating the process to finish before Election Day.

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