[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] bly Lance's harshest critic on the Senate committee, yesterday read a detailed indictment of the budget director into the record. Percy said Lance appeared to have violated a number of laws or regulations, to have operated on a questionable ethical standard, and to have misled the Senate committee.
Percy acknowledged that the committee "failed to do what we should have done in January: thoroughly review Mr. Lance's qualifications . . . " He urged Lance to resign, and said that if he insists on staying in office, "I see a rough period ahead" for both him and President Carter.
Carter met privately with Lance early yesterday morning but White House officials, professing ignorance, said they did not know what took place at the meeting. Presidential press secretary Jody Powell said it was his "impression" that no decision on Lance's future in the government had been made.
That decision, Powell said, will be "personal," involving only the President and Lance.
The press secretary also said that "most of us in the White House" believe Lance greatly aided his cause during his three days of testimony before the Senate committee.
Carter also praised Lance during a Cabinet meeting yesterday. According to a White House aide, the President "spoke very favorably of Bert Lance's testimony, the way he conducted himself and the way he answered questions."
The aide said Commerce Secretary Juanita M. Kreps told the Cabinet that in a recent swing around the country she found little interest in the Lance affair and little anti-Lance feeling among the public.
Some decision on Lance's future is expected this week. Carter is scheduled to hold a news conference this week, possibly Wednesday.
The four Senate aides who testified yesterday were Richard Wegman, staff director and chief counsel to the committee; John B. Childers, minority counsel; David Schaefer, former committee counsel and now aide to Ribicoff, and Claudia T. Ingram, formerly an aide to Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. (R-Conn.), who was a member of the committee in January.
Wegman, Childers and Schaefer met with Lance on Jan. 13 in a sessionthat lasted several hours, and covered Lance's plans for financial disclosure, a blind trust and so forth. Schaefer introduced several pages of notes he made from that meeting.
Childers, Schaefer and Ingram met again with Lance on Jan. 18 for just 15 minutes prior to his second day of testimony before the committee. That meeting was held to ask Lance about information the committee had just gotten concerning family overdrafts at the Calhoun bank, and a major embezzlement at that bank by an officer hired by Lance, Billy Lee Campbell.
The statements attributed to Lance at that meeting on Jan. 18 are potentially most damaging, because they suggest that he lied to the staff members about family overdrafts at the bank.
Lance's defenders on the committee - Democratic Sens. Sam Nunn (Ga.), Lawton M. Chiles Jr. (Fla.) and Thomas F. Eagleton (Mo.) - tried in different ways yesterday to take the edge off that testimony.
Eagleton did so most directly, challenging the veracity of the staff members' testimony. First Eagleton elicited testimony from Childers that the information the staff had received about family overdrafts (which came to Childers in the form of a confidential phone call from an unidentified sources in Georgia) was thrt several family members were involved, including Mrs. Lance.
Then Eagleton noted that by the staff's account, Lance on Jan. 18 denied that Mrs. Lance had overdrafts, and blamed all family overdrafts on the death of one man.
If that was true, Eagleton suggested, Childers and the others certainly would have challenged Lance's explanation, since it conflicted with their tipoff from Georgia.
Therefore, Eagleton reasoned, what Lance really said on Jan. 18 must have been more through and detailed than the staff now recalls. As to the version they swore to yesterday, Eagleton said: "I don't believe it."
The staff members stood by their story. Childers noted that Lance had said it would be extremely embarrassing to the family to mention the suicide in a public hearing, so it seemed to be a sensitive subject. Schaefer said Lance's version was consistent with what they knew.
Schaefer added that Lance's demeanor with the staff at all times had been friendly, direct and forthcoming, and that there was no apparent reason to challenge his answers.
Nunn argued that the staff members might well be honestly recalling their dealings with Lance, but it was at least possible that their memories - not Lance's - were faulty. He elicited testimony that the three participants in the Jan. 18 meeting did not recall all its details identically, so perhaps their stated memories that did coincide were also faulty.
According to Chiles, Lance did not say definitely that he had told the staff about the cease-and-desist agreement with the Calhoun bank - which the staff testified Lance had never mentioned. (This agreement suggested that the bank was sloppily run under Lance, and specified details about his and his relatives' overdrafts. The committee never saw the agreement before confirming Lance.)
Chiles said Lance spoke in difference ways about what he told the staff about the agreement, sometimes saying he thought he had discussed it, or assumed he had.
In his prepared statement Thursday, Lance said: "Specifically [at the Jan. 13 meeting] I disclosed and we discussed the agreement between the office of the comptroller of the currency and the Calhoun First National Bank . . ."
(The three staff members denied he said this.)
Asked about this quotation after yesterday's hearing, Chiles said he knew it was there, but that Lance's later remarks had "qualified" it.
Percy's long indictment of Lance, which he read yesterday, was the first attempt by any member of the committee to systematically state the case against the budget director. It took Percy about 4,000 word to do it.
Percy said he agreed with President Carter's assessment that Lance's testimony last week enhanced his personal position. "He is perhaps the most accompolished witness before a Senate committee that I have ever seen,Percy said.
"But while polished," he went on, "Mr. Lance's testimony in my judgement was also evasive. On so many occasions, questions were deftly side-stepped. Answers were often not forthcoming or his memory was weak . . ."
"At times," Percy added, "Mr. Lance's answers were misleading." As an example, he cited the fact that Lance had described one passenger on a disputed airplane trip he took on the National bank of Georgia airplane as "a Texas lawyer." Only when pressed, Percy said, did Lance acknowledge that this was Robert Strauss, then chairman of the Democratic National Committee, whom Lance took to Carter's first speech of last fall's campaign on the NBG plane.
Percy repeatedly accused Lance of living by a "double standard," of using his position of wealth and privilege to get away with things ordinary citizens couldn't dream of.
He challenged Carter, in effect, to read the summation of accusations he had prepared. If, Percy said, Carter can become "fully and completely informed of these facts," and can reiterate his statement that Lance has done nothing illegal or unethical, "then I can anly say that my own personal hopes and expectations for the Carter administration would be dashed."
Percy accused Lance of a long list of unethical or illegal acts, including: personal overdrafts; pledging the same collateral simultaneously to two different banks for two different loans; ignoring his own 1973 pledge to put an end to insider overdrafts at the Calhoun bank: "abusive use of corporate aircraft;" the filing of incomplete financial statements with the Senate; and a failure to report to fellow bank directors on his borrowing from other banks, as provided by law.