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Clinton Detailed For Prosecutors His Last Phone Call To Foster

January 4, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Worried about his old friend’s state of mind, President Clinton called Vincent Foster and arranged to meet with him in two days, the president told Whitewater prosecutors. It was their final conversation: Foster shot himself to death the next day.

Presidential business kept him from getting together with Foster sooner, Clinton said in a sworn deposition to prosecutors. The document, released Tuesday by the Senate Banking Committee, detailed Clinton’s awareness that Foster _ whom Clinton had known ``from the time I was 3 or 4 years old″ _ had been under heavy pressure as deputy White House counsel in 1993.

Whitewater prosecutors looked into Foster’s death and continue to delve into White House aides’ removal of Whitewater-related papers from Foster’s office after his suicide. The Whitewater papers were kept in the White House family residence for several days.

In his June 12 deposition, Clinton told then-Whitewater prosecutor Robert Fiske he could not remember whether he had known Foster had handled tax returns for Whitewater, the Clintons’ real estate venture now under scrutiny.

``I don’t recall that I was aware of that, no,″ Clinton replied to a Fiske question. ``I am just not sure I knew Vince had anything to do with that.″

But later Clinton added: ``I could have known ... I’m just not sure.″

Clinton said he called Foster on July 19, 1993, the night before his death, to ask Foster over to the White House to watch a movie and set up a meeting to discuss White House matters.

He said he hadn’t talked to Foster ``in a few weeks,″ and made the call partly ``because I knew he had been under a lot of stress″ regarding an unfolding controversy at the White House travel office.

``I wanted to see how he was doing,″ Clinton said.

Foster ``didn’t seem unduly distressed″ during the phone call, the president said, adding that his concerns had been tempered after hearing that Foster seemed more relaxed during a weekend vacation.

``I could not see him the next day because we had the announcement of Mr. Freeh, the FBI director, and we have other things on my schedule and could we please meet on Wednesday and he said yes,″ Clinton said.

Foster, a former law partner of Hillary Rodham Clinton, was found dead July 20, 1993 at a suburban Washington park.

The banking committee released part of Clinton’s deposition, along with separate reports from panel Republicans and Democrats based on last summer’s Whitewater hearings.

The Senate panel also released an FBI interview summary with former White House chief of staff Mack McLarty. McLarty disclosed that he discussed with the president the controversial appointment of former Republican U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens to oversee a federal civil inquiry into a savings and loan connected to Whitewater.

McLarty told FBI agents that Clinton expressed ``concern″ and ``frustration″ about Stephens’ appointment. But ``the president did not ask for any action to be taken in regard to the hiring,″ the FBI report of its interview with McLarty stated.

Testimony at congressional Whitewater hearings showed presidential aides obtained confidential information from a criminal investigation examining the collapse of the Whitewater-connected S&L owned by the Clintons’ Whitewater business partners.

White House Counsel Abner Mikva said he issued ``guidance″ to White House staff restricting contacts with agencies conducting law enforcement probes, ``so that mistakes in judgment ... will not be repeated.″

Mikva said ``careful consideration″ would be given to incorporating the restrictions into a binding executive order.

The GOP report concluded White House and Treasury Department officials demonstrated ``serious misconduct and malfeasance″ by discussing contents of the criminal investigation into the S&L.

The Democratic report concluded that ``no law or ethics standard″ was violated by any administration official.

``After all the noise, after all the articles, after all the accusations, the bottom line is no ethical violations, no criminal violations,″ said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., a member of the banking committee.

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