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Businessman Recounts Conversations With Clinton, Ickes

March 26, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a 2 1/2-hour federal grand jury appearance, a businessman Wednesday recounted a brief conversation with President Clinton about hurricane relief and discussions a week later with White House aide Harold Ickes about proposed campaign donations.

R. Warren Meddoff of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said the conversation with Clinton last Oct. 22 concerned the president’s approving flights of goods to hurricane victims in Cuba. The conversation took place after Meddoff handed Clinton a business card saying an associate of Meddoff was prepared to donate $5 million to the Democratic National Committee.

On Oct. 30, in the closing days of the presidential campaign, Meddoff said, he got a call from Ickes to see if Meddoff could arrange a donation in 24 hours. Meddoff said he needed 48 hours. The donations were not made.

Meddoff first disclosed the discussions with Clinton and Ickes in February.

Following his grand jury appearance, Medoff said he had been questioned by prosecutors about ``a brief conversation with the president of the United States″ and ``campaign finances regarding the president ... the White House and the Democratic National Committee.″

Ickes’ discussions with Meddoff about campaign contributions are part of a criminal investigation by a Justice Department task force looking into campaign fund raising.

The White House says Ickes solicited no contributions. To do so would violate a federal criminal statute. The White House says Ickes merely advised Meddoff on where his friend, Texas businessman William R. Morgan, could send tax-deductible donations. Morgan also was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury.

Within hours of getting a faxed memo from Ickes suggesting that Morgan donate $500,000, Meddoff said, Ickes telephoned and told him ``he had sent the memo to me in error, and will I please shred it.″ The White House denies that Ickes used the word shred, saying he told Meddoff only that the memo was inoperative. The memo also suggested that Morgan give $250,000 to each of two tax-exempt groups plus $40,000 to another.

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