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White House Denies Secret Service Spat

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Administration officials sought Monday to squelch rumors that the Clintons had gone to war with the Secret Service because loose-lipped agents were leaking tales of marital arguments in the White House.

Dee Dee Myers, Clinton’s press secretary, denied that Treasury Department officials had told the Secret Service that Treasury would find a new agency to protect the First Family if the leaks do not stop. And, she said, stories of quarrels between the Clintons are “bizarre.”

“Every White House has its own particular breed of rumors but I think these are particularly ridiculous and unfounded and it’s too bad,” she told reporters at the regular White House briefing.

There were not only rumors but “rumors about the source of the rumors,” she said. “So it’s a complicated dynamic.”

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Myers said that the President and Mrs. Clinton are “both satisfied with the professionalism and performance of the Secret Service. The Secret Service has done an outstanding job.”

The rumors, always attributed to agents, have circulated in Washington for many weeks. In some versions, Hillary Rodham Clinton has thrown a vase, a Bible or another object at her husband. In one, an agent steps in front of the First Lady during a dispute and says: “We’ve got to protect him, including from you.”

Curtis Eldridge, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said agency officials had investigated such reported leaks from Secret Service agents and found no evidence that any agent had spoken out of turn. “If there had been any breaking of that trust, you can believe it is something we would deal with,” he said.

Eldridge said that unflattering rumors about Clinton attributed to Secret Service agents had surfaced periodically during the presidential campaign. Some of Clinton’s opponents in the George Bush-Dan Quayle camp had tried to pass along the rumors.

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But the Secret Service could find no evidence that any agent had in fact been the source of the allegations, Eldridge said.

A senior Treasury Department official described the reports as “offensive as hell,” but insisted that there was no foundation to them.

In the first days after they moved into the White House, the Clintons did complain that the Secret Service’s close security was giving them less privacy than they were used to. Clinton then jokingly called the White House the “crown jewel of the federal penal system.”

But since then, the family has made some adjustments in the security arrangements to give them more space, according to one White House aide.

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