County Council administrator may testify in White House files case Emery could be called to Senate on Thursday

July 12, 1996|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

Howard County Council Administrator Christopher B. Emery, already mixed up in a council spat over a misplaced file, may soon testify in Washington about the real "Filegate" -- the White House's improper review of hundreds of confidential FBI files.

Emery was a White House usher for seven years before first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton fired him in March 1994.

He said the firing came 10 weeks after the White House requested his FBI and Internal Revenue Service files -- among those that are at the heart of the current White House controversy.

Yesterday, an investigator for the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is probing the White House review of FBI files, told Emery he may be asked to make a five-minute prepared statement and testify for up to 1 1/2 hours Thursday, he said.

Committees from the Senate and the House of Representatives are investigating the review of FBI files, as is Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr.

Emery, a Republican who was an usher for Presidents Reagan and Bush, says the Clinton White House requested his files in hopes of purging him from that job.

"I think they were going to wipe out the whole office, just like they did the travel office, and put their own people in there," Emery said yesterday.

The claim is controversial because the White House says the request of hundreds of FBI files was a "bureaucratic snafu," not a campaign to turn up dirt on people officials didn't like.

Yesterday, the White House declined to specifically dispute the facts of Emery's case.

Special Associate Counsel Mark Fabiani said through a spokesman, "If this allegation is credible, we are confident that .. the independent counsel will consider it."

PTC The Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the FBI, began investigating the White House's review of the FBI files June 20.

The committee has questioned a half-dozen former White House employees whose FBI files were reviewed and others, including Craig Livingstone, head of the White House personnel security office until he resigned over the FBI file scandal.

Judiciary Committee spokeswoman Jeanne Lopatto said the committee has not released either the date or the witness list for its next meeting, but its investigators have talked with several potential witnesses about testifying.

Emery began working for the White House in 1986 and became an usher -- meaning he helped run the White House residence -- a year later. Because Emery was a White House staffer, the FBI investigated his background before his employment and in five-year intervals after that.

On that schedule, he wasn't due for his third review until this spring, but the Clinton White House requested an update of his FBI file in December 1993, Emery said. White House officials obtained his IRS file about the same time, he said.

On March 3, 1994, Hillary Clinton fired Emery without explanation, he said.

Pub Date: 7/12/96

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