State Expands Probe Into Clinton Files Controversy
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Bill Clinton’s mother said today that ″every American ought to be insulted″ because State Department officials reportedly searched their files for information concerning her foreign travel as well as Clinton’s activities abroad.
″This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of in my life, but what else can you expect from an administration that has produced nothing productive,″ Virginia Kelley said in a taped interview on ABC’s ″Good Morning America.″
″I’m indignant, I’m insulted,″ she said. ″I’m of an age that I lived through Hitler and his Gestapo ... Every American alive ought to be insulted.″
The Democratic presidential candidate himself said Thursday in Seattle when informed of the report that it ″would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.″
The Washington Post, which initially reported Thursday that the file search included a foray into records on Clinton’s mother, said in Friday’s editions that the effort was directed by senior officials in the department, including two political appointees.
Moreover, said the paper, the two-day combing of files at the National Records Center, run by the National Archives, was documented by a National Archives memo which noted that the State Department officials were ″disappointed″ at how little information they turned up.
Acting Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who already had ordered an investigation into why officials had queried embassies abroad for Clinton’s records, ordered his inspector general to expand the probe into the latest disclosures, including the reported search of records on the mother of the Democratic presidential candidate.
The core issue is whether the State Department, which normally stays out of partisan politics, was attempting to bolster President Bush’s re-election effort under the cover of dealing with media inquiries about Clinton’s years as an Oxford Scholar in England. During that time, he traveled one winter to communist capitals in Europe.
The State Department has acknowledged that officials deviated from normal procedure by insisting that the requests be treated expeditiously. Moreover, none of the media requests sought information on Clinton’s mother.
Clinton said in Seattle that the State Department had been ″not only rifling through my files but investigating my mother, a well known subversive. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.″
Clinton’s vice presidential running mate, Al Gore, quickly condemned such a search as ″absolutely despicable tactics ... about as low as you can get in a campaign.″
At the State Department, spokesman Richard Boucher noted that Eagleburger ″has instructed the inspector general to include the issues that were raised by this morning’s Washington Post article in their investigation.″
But Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., and Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., said they were worried the State Department investigation would not be impartial. They said they have asked the General Accounting Office, Congress’ investigative arm, to open an immediate investigation.
″The State Department should not be the negative research arm of the Republican Party,″ Kerry said in Los Angeles. ″There are legitimate questions here.″
The Post account said that, in addition to Clinton, department officials looked for material under the names ″Virginia Dell Blythe″ and ″Virginia Dell Clinton″ as well as Clinton’s original name, ″William Jefferson Blythe.″ He took his stepfather’s last name in 1962.
No information was found under Clinton’s mother’s name, the Post quoted officials as saying.
Bush has been especially critical of Clinton for participating in anti-war demonstrations while on foreign soil but has pulled back from assailing his opponent for visiting Moscow and Prague in late 1969 and early 1970 while on vacation.
The Post said in Friday’s story that the officials who searched the files at the records center in nearby Suitland, Md., on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 worked for Elizabeth M. Tamposi, a former New Hampshire legislator and GOP state finance chairman who has been assistant secretary of state for consular affairs since October 1989.
The search party included her personal assistant, Steven Moheban, a political appointee and former employee of her real estate firm, and Michael Brennan, another political appointee who is the chief spokesman of the consular affairs office, the Post said. Jill Brett, a National Archives spokesperson, called the search ″very unusual.″