Clinton phoned troubled aide night before he killed himself

July 28, 1993|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton telephoned Vincent W. Foster Jr. the night before he committed suicide in part because he knew that the deputy White House counsel was "having a rough time" at work, the White House said yesterday.

The statement, confirming a report in Newsweek magazine, appeared somewhat at variance with a previous White House assertion that no one had known Mr. Foster was feeling troubled. But Dee Dee Myers, the White House press secretary, said the president had been aware only that it had been a difficult week for the office of the White House counsel, where Mr. Foster was the second-ranking official.

"There was absolutely no reason to think that Vince was despondent," Ms. Myers said yesterday. "Nobody believed that." She said later that the president had invited Mr. Foster and his wife, Lisa, to watch a movie with him but that the lawyer had declined during the course of their 20-minute telephone call.

Ms. Myers sought to dispel any notion that Mr. Clinton had felt any sense of foreboding. "The president did not have any inkling that Vince was about to go kill himself."

The disclosure of the July 19 telephone call from the president nevertheless added to a picture that suggests that a number of Mr. Foster's friends had become concerned about him shortly before he was found dead July 20 of a gunshot to the head.

Ms. Myers emphasized that Mr. Clinton had frequently called Mr. Foster, a lifelong friend.

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