AP NEWS
Related topics

Eagleburger Apologizes in Clinton Passport Files Search

November 18, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Acting Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger today apologized for the State Department’s search of President-elect Clinton’s citizenship and travel records. A department investigation said the search was conducted solely ″to influence the outcome of a presidential election.″

The report by Inspector General Sherman M. Funk found the White House was not responsible for ordering the search. But he concluded that Elizabeth M. Tamposi and other officials in the State Department’s consular affairs bureau were spurred partly ″partisan hopes to derail the Clinton campaign.″

In some respects, though, Funk said there also was ″a comedy of errors″ in the hurried manner in which Clinton’s files were examined.

He said fewer than 10 department employes, should be disciplined for their role in the actions. Ms. Tamposi was fired as assistant secretary for counselor affairs last week for ordering the records search in the closing days of the presidential campaign.

Eagleburger said Tamposi had been fired for taking Clinton’s files home, among other reasons, but was not the sole person responsible for the search.

″It was not Ms. Tamposi by herself by any means,″ he said.

″I apologize for the department being in this mess,″ Eagleburger said.

Funk, taking the podium in the department’s briefing room, called the attempt to use the State Department politically was ″a heinous activity.″

″We found no evidence that the White House - or any other external source - orchestrated an ‘attack’ on the Clinton files,″ Funk’s report said.

But the report, said: ″In a broader sense, however, what we did find was more disturbing than any of these.″

″What we found was an attempt to use the records and employees of a government agency, the U.S. Department of State, to influence the outcome of a presidential election,″ it said.

″We found no major fraud, no massive corruption, no rogue operations subverting American foreign policy,″ Funk said.

Eagleburger said he resented and regretted the appearance of the State Department being involved in partisan political activities. ″I do not consider that a minor matter,″ said the career foreign service officer.

Eagleburger said he would be taking ″corrective actions″ shortly.

″The genesis of the search may have been ordinary Freedom of Information Action requests,″ a summary of Funk’s findings said. ″The manner in which it was carried out was anything but ordinary.″

Eagleburger said he had offered to resign when the controversy erupted.

Quitting now, he said, ″would be a somewhat quixotic act″ since he plans to leave with the end of the Bush administration in January.

Eagleburger said the best thing he could do would be to oversee the reforms proposed in the report.

Another official in the troubled Consular Affairs bureau, special assistant Steven Moheban, resigned on Monday ″to pursue opportunities in the private sector,″ a department press officer said.

At the time of the search, Bush was making an issue of Clinton’s character and opposition to the Vietnam War in an unsuccessful re-election campaign. The search found no evidence the Democratic challenger had inquired about changing his citizenship while attending Oxford University in England in the late 1960s or had engaged in illegal activities during a trip to Moscow in 1969-70.

The State Department cited requests for information from the news media as the rationale for the search, conducted on an expedited basis even though the criteria for doing so were lacking.

But there have been reports in the past week that Ms. Tamposi had been told the White House wanted the information.

State Department investigators have questioned other officials about the search. Searches also were made of the passport files of Clinton’s mother, Virginia Kelley, and Ross Perot, the independent presidential candidate.

AP RADIO
Update hourly