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Whitewater: The Foster Report
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II. BACKGROUND

A. 1993 Park Police Investigation

Because Mr. Foster's body was found in Fort Marcy, a park maintained by the National Park Service, the United States Park Police conducted the investigation of his death.   On the night of the death (July 20, 1993), Mr. Foster's body was transported to Fairfax County Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia. The next day, Dr. James C. Beyer, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, Northern Virginia District of the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, conducted an autopsy in the presence of an assistant and four Park Police officers.

The FBI assisted the Park Police in certain aspects of the ensuing death investigation, as did other federal and Virginia agencies. Moreover, the FBI, at the direction of the Department of Justice, opened a separate investigation of possible obstruction of justice after a note was reportedly found on Monday, July 26, 1993, in Mr. Foster's briefcase at the White House.

On August 10, 1993, the Department of Justice, FBI, and Park Police jointly announced the results of the death and note investigations. The Park Police concluded that Mr. Foster committed suicide by gunshot in Fort Marcy Park. Robert Langston, Chief of the Park Police, explained:

 The condition of the scene, the medical examiner's findings and the information gathered clearly indicate that Mr. Foster committed suicide. Without an eyewitness, the conclusion of suicide is deducted after a review of the injury, the presence of the weapon, the existence of some indicators of a reason, and the elimination of murder. Our investigation has found no evidence of foul play. The information gathered from associates, relatives and friends provide us with enough evidence to conclude that Mr. Foster's ... that Mr. Foster was anxious about his work and he was distressed to the degree that he took his own life.
Based on the evidence the FBI gathered in its investigation, the Department of Justice did not seek criminal charges for obstruction of justice relating to the handling of the note.
 

B. 1994 Fiske Investigation

In 1992 and 1993, the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) examined the operations of Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, a defunct savings and loan in Little Rock, Arkansas, that had been operated by James and Susan McDougal. The McDougals also had been partners with William Jefferson Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton in an Arkansas real estate venture known as the Whitewater Development Company. In October 1993, the RTC sent nine criminal referrals to the United States Attorney's Office in Little Rock concerning the activities of Madison Guaranty.

Also in 1993, the FBI investigated the activities of Capital Management Services, Inc., a small business investment company in Little Rock that had been operated by David L. Hale. Mr. Hale was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Arkansas on September 23, 1993.

Both the Hale prosecution and the Madison investigation were transferred in November 1993 from the United States Attorney's Office in Little Rock to the Fraud Section of the Department of Justice in Washington. On December 20, 1993, the White House confirmed that Whitewater-related documents had been in Mr. Foster's White House office at the time of his death. On January 12, 1994, President Clinton asked Attorney General Reno to appoint an independent counsel, and on January 20, 1994, the Attorney General appointed Robert B. Fiske, Jr., to take over the investigation.

Mr. Fiske's jurisdictional mandate vested him with authority to investigate whether any individuals or entities committed federal crimes "relating in any way to President William Jefferson Clinton's or Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton's relationships with (1) Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan Association, (2) Whitewater Development Corporation, or (3) Capital Management Services." After his appointment, Mr. Fiske took over both the Hale prosecution and the continuing Madison investigation.

Mr. Fiske also opened a new investigation of Mr. Foster's death, utilizing FBI resources and a panel of distinguished and experienced pathologists. On June 30, 1994, Mr. Fiske issued a report concluding that "[t]he overwhelming weight of the evidence compels the conclusion . . . that Vincent Foster committed suicide in Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993."

C. Congressional Inquiries

On February 24, 1994, Congressman William F. Clinger, Jr., then the Ranking Republican on the Committee on Government Operations of the United States House of Representatives, initiated a probe into the death of Mr. Foster. Mr. Clinger's staff interviewed emergency rescue personnel, law enforcement officials, and other persons involved in the Park Police investigation of Mr. Foster's death.   Mr. Clinger's staff obtained access to the Park Police reports and to photographs taken at the scene and at the autopsy.   Mr. Clinger issued a report on August 12, 1994, concluding that "all available facts lead to the undeniable conclusion that Vincent W. Foster, Jr. took his own life in Fort Marcy Park, Virginia on July 20, 1993."

The United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs conducted an inquiry into the Park Police investigation of Mr. Foster's death. The Committee concluded its inquiry with a report issued on January 3, 1995, stating that "[t]he evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion of the Park Police that on July 20, 1993, Mr. Foster died in Fort Marcy Park from a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the upper palate of his mouth." The additional views of Senators D'Amato, Faircloth, Bond, Hatch, Shelby, Mack, and Domenici stated that "[w]e agree with the majority's conclusion that on July 20, 1993 Vincent Foster took his own life in Fort Marcy Park."

D. Appointment of the Independent Counsel

On August 5, 1994, after enactment of the Independent Counsel Reauthorization Act of 1994, the Special Division of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit appointed Kenneth W. Starr as Independent Counsel In re: Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan Association. The OIC was given jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute matters "relating in any way to James B. McDougal's, President William Jefferson Clinton's, or Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton's relationships with Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan Association, Whitewater Development Corporation, or Capital Management Services, Inc."

Due to continuing questions about Mr. Foster's death, the relationship between Mr. Foster's death and the handling of documents (including Whitewater-related documents) from Mr. Foster's office after his death, and Mr. Foster's possible role or involvement in other events under investigation by the OIC, the OIC reviewed and analyzed the evidence gathered during prior investigations of Mr. Foster's death and conducted further investigation.

Foster Report Table of Contents

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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