By Guy Gugliotta
A key Republican senator yesterday cleared U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson of any attempt to mislead Congress in describing a job interview he gave to former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky, and urged President Clinton to swear in Richardson as secretary of energy.
In letters to both Clinton and Richardson, Sen. Frank H. Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said a bipartisan investigation "found no basis to believe that Ambassador Richardson had misled the committee in any way."
During his July 22 confirmation hearing before the committee, Richardson told Murkowski he interviewed Lewinsky in November 1997 and offered her a job to fill a staff opening in New York.
Although the full Senate subsequently confirmed Richardson, Murkowski asked Clinton to delay the swearing-in while he investigated a Washington Times report that Richardson did not have a position to offer Lewinsky, had given her "special treatment" to get her a job and tried to cover up his actions when news broke of Lewinsky's alleged involvement with Clinton.
"We found no credible evidence" to support the Washington Times story, Murkowski said in a memo to committee members. "To the contrary, we found clear and convincing evidence corroborating the ambassador's testimony."
He told Clinton he now supported the installation of Richardson as energy secretary.
Richardson is likely to remain at his U.N. post for the time being. Clinton has selected Bosnia peace negotiator Richard C. Holbrooke to succeed Richardson, but the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has yet to schedule a hearing on that nomination.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company