Weeks later, Ms. Lewis received a response from Ms. Casey. Not to the new referrals, but to the one of September 1992. The answer was as expected. The criminal referral mentioning the first family had been turned down by Justice because of "insufficient information."
Then, almost immediately, Ms. Lewis was kicked off the case. "The Powers That Be," she wrote her bosses, "have decided that I'm better off out of the line of fire. . . ."
On Jan. 6, 1994, Ms. Lewis wrote her supervisor, "It's beginning to sound like somebody, or multiple somebodies, are trying to carefully control the outcome of any investigation surrounding the RTC referrals, and that the beginnings of a cover-up may have already started months ago."
Whoever made the decision to fire Ms. Lewis had not learned his or her civics lessons. President Clinton might be in charge of the executive branch and Justice itself, but the U.S. Congress is another matter.
Ms. Lewis contacted Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, who is now the chairman of the House Banking Committee. He flew to Kansas City and met with Ms. Lewis, who played an audiotape for him.
It was of a meeting with an RTC attorney, who ostensibly told Ms. Lewis that "the people at the top" were being asked about Whitewater and the criminal referral.
The "head people" at the agency would like to be able to say that Whitewater did not cause a loss of money to Madison, which would "get them off the hook," the RTC lawyer added.
(The RTC attorney has denied the account, but Mr. Leach believes that the secretly taped recording confirms Ms. Lewis' account of the meeting.)
Ms. Lewis refused to testify at the 1994 congressional Whitewater hearings but is determined to tell what she knows at the fuller hearings in 1995.
Was the Justice Department or other government officials trying to stifle the truth about Whitewater?
If so, it has backfired. The actions of the "powers that be" stimulated a revival of interest in Whitewater that had been dying for lack of news.
The fourth-rate real estate deal in a rural corner of Arkansas was now truly headed for political notoriety, one that apparently will not go away.
Continued Next Sunday.
Martin L. Gross is the author of seven nonfiction books, including "The Government Racket: Washington Waste from A to Z" and "A Call for Revolution."