Panel demands Clinton, Gore videos Senate committee asks for 70 additional tapes of fund-raising events

November 16, 1997|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- Complaining about "a rather dismal record of delay," the Senate committee investigating campaign finance abuses has demanded that the White House turn over 70 additional videotapes of President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore attending fund-raising events at the White House and around the country.

Since Oct. 29, the committee, led by Sen. Fred Thompson, a Tennessee Republican, has sought the videotapes, including tapes of two White House coffees that the committee's lawyers said they learned about only this week.

"We have been repeatedly calling to resolve these outstanding issues since Oct. 29 with no result," Michael J. Madigan, the committee's chief counsel, wrote in a letter dated Friday to Charles F. C. Ruff, counsel to Clinton. "We can no longer accept mere representations of cooperation."

In the letter, Madigan suggested that the White House was hoping that it would not have to hand over the videotapes before Dec. 31, the deadline set by the Senate for the committee to conclude its investigation. Madigan demanded that all tapes be delivered by Wednesday.

White House lawyers strongly disputed the suggestion that they were trying to avoid delivering the tapes. "We are anxious to cooperate, as always, and provide all the videotapes that are relevant to the committee's interest in examining campaign finance related issues," said Lanny J. Davis, special counsel to the president.

Davis added, "It is my understanding that discussions need to continue so that the committee staff can clarify why it is asking for certain videotapes that appear to have nothing to do with what they say they are interested in."

For months, the release of materials to the Senate committee by the White House -- especially the videotapes, which were not discovered by White House officials until early October -- has been the issue that has most divided lawyers on both sides.

Although the committee has no additional hearings scheduled, Madigan hinted that those plans could change if the tapes were not provided by Wednesday.

A White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that White House lawyers were scheduled to work through the weekend to review the tapes.

"We don't even know what's on these tapes," the official said.

Pub Date: 11/16/97

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