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White House Sought IRS File on Usher Before He Was Fired

July 3, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Several weeks before a White House usher was fired at Hillary Rodham Clinton’s instruction, the administration sought the usher’s confidential IRS file even though he said he wasn’t due for a background check for three more years, according to documents.

The request for an IRS records check for usher Christopher B. Emery was made Dec. 17, 1993, by Anthony Marceca, the Army civilian employee at the White House at the center of the FBI file controversy, according to Marceca’s own documents.

Those documents suggest the White House mistakenly believed Emery hadn’t had a background check in seven years even though all employees are automatically investigated every five years.

Emery, however, said in an interview Wednesday he made it clear to the FBI and to his boss that he had just had a background investigation in 1991 and was being taken out of order.

Nonetheless, he signed a waiver allowing a new background check. He was fired 10 weeks later.

``Everyone in the office thought it was very unusual,″ Emery said in an interview. ``We were convinced that this was part of a purge, that they felt we were not loyal.″

Both ex-White House security chief Craig Livingstone, Marceca’s boss, and former presidential lawyer William Kennedy have testified to a House committee they did not believe any White House employees were forced to undergo background checks out of order.

Livingstone resigned last week after revelations that his office, including Marceca, wrongly gathered hundreds of confidential FBI background files on former Reagan and Bush administration employees, including several high-level Republicans.

Emery was fired March 3, 1994, after nine years as a White House usher, over Mrs. Clinton’s concerns he had telephoned former first lady Barbara Bush to help her with a computer problem.

At the time, Mrs. Clinton’s office said the firing occurred because Emery showed ``an incredible lack of discretion.″ At the time, reports said Mrs. Clinton was concerned that Emery had discussed personal matters about the Clintons with Mrs. Bush.

Neil Lattimore, the first lady’s spokesman, said Wednesday that Mrs. Clinton had nothing to do with the IRS file request.

``She knows nothing about any of this,″ he said. ``We don’t need any files to fire a worker who serves at the pleasure of the president.″

But he added: ``Maybe some of her concerns about workers in the residence were justified. The ushers are never supposed to talk in public. It just sort of a standard they set for themselves.″

Emery confirmed that in November 1993 he and other workers in the White House residence received packets from presidential counsel Bernard Nussbaum asking them to resubmit to background investigations.

Emery said he immediately told head usher Gary Walters and the FBI that he had a background investigation completed in 1991, and was not due again for three more years.

``He (Walters) just rolled his eyes and said this is part of your employment,″ he said. ``It was pretty ominous sounding that we had to resubmit.″

Emery said his packet of information from Nussbaum’s office also included a questionnaire asking the current and past political affiliations of both Emery and his wife.

He said he did not return the questionnaire, but believes he signed the waivers authorizing another FBI and IRS check. He now wonders whether the background check was being misused as a prelude to his firing.

``Of course, I am angry but I attribute it to the incredible ineptness and confusion and disorganization of the Clintons,″ he said. ``I am hopeful that it was nothing sinister although I have my doubts now.″

Marceca’s documents show he had requested IRS checks on at least 100 current employees during his stint in Livingstone’s office. The request for Emery was included with those of 27 other employees, most working in the White House residence, on Dec. 17, 1993.

That document indicates a copy of the request was given to Kennedy, a former law partner of Mrs. Clinton in Arkansas who worked in the White House counsel’s office for the first two years of the administration.

Kennedy was asked recently during a deposition by House investigators in the FBI files matter whether any background investigations of White House residence staff were done out of order. He answered: ``I am unaware of any such activity. I don’t believe it occurred.″

Livingstone was asked the same question in his deposition and answered: ``I don’t have a specific recollection. ... Personally, I would not think that would be necessary.″

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