GOP Slams White House in FBI Files Report
By George Lardner Jr.
Brushing aside a hurried swarm of Democratic protests, the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee's Republican majority voted last night to approve an interim report accusing the Clinton White House of trying to politicize the FBI and demonstrating a "cavalier approach" toward sensitive security matters.
The 205-page report said further investigation is needed before it can be determined who was responsible for putting two political operatives with "checkered pasts" Craig Livingstone and Anthony Marceca in charge of an office that collected confidential FBI reports on hundreds of Republicans from the Reagan and Bush administrations. But the GOP majority said it would pursue the answers despite what it termed a lack of White House cooperation.
"Whether or not these events are shown to be a blunder, the result of colossal incompetence, or whether they are established to be more serious or even criminal, the casualness with which this White House has approached many areas of security and access provided a climate for either of these troubling alternatives," the report said.
Democrats assailed the report as a "series of unfounded accusations" and made plain the inquiry would go no further if they regain control of the House in November.
Rep. Cardiss Collins (D-Ill.), the ranking minority member, said the committee had "found absolutely no evidence that anyone [at the White House] was told to compile an enemies list" and nothing to refute the White House explanation that the improper acquisitions were a mistake based on an outdated list.
Drafted without input from the Democrats, the report "has no credibility" and is "nothing more than election-year Republican political rhetoric," Collins charged.
Committee Chairman William F. Clinger Jr. (R-Pa.) reminded members that the investigation began more than three years ago with an inquiry into the firings of the White House travel office staff. He said it dragged on into an election year only because "this administration has engaged to block us at every turn." The report was adopted on a voice vote in a hurry-up schedule dictated by plans to adjourn this week.
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