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Clinton Legal Aide Is Apparent Suicide Victim : White House: Vince Foster was a close friend of the President and former law partner of the First Lady. Staff members know of no motive for the shooting.

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Vince Foster, President Clinton’s deputy legal counsel, was found dead Tuesday night in a roadside park from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, White House officials said.

U.S. Park Police said Foster’s body was found at Ft. Marcy, a small Civil War park overlooking the Potomac River in suburban Virginia outside the nation’s capital.

The initial investigation indicated the 48-year-old Foster, a friend of the Clinton family and former law partner of Hillary Rodham Clinton, apparently shot himself, according to Lt. Patrick Gavin.

Foster was married and the father of three children, the White House said.

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Clinton left the White House after learning of the death to be with Foster’s family, officials said.

Foster’s death stunned the President’s staff members, who said they were unaware of anything that might have caused Foster to take his own life.

Clinton issued a statement expressing “deep sadness” and saying Foster had “served ably and with distinction as deputy White House counsel, and was my friend for over 40 years.”

“Hillary and I love his wife, Lisa, and their three children, and we want to draw them close to our hearts and keep them in our prayers in this painful moment of grief,” Clinton said.

“His family has lost a loving husband and father, America has lost a gifted and loyal public servant, and Hillary and I have lost a true and trusted friend,” the President added. “My deepest hope is that whatever drew Vince away from us this evening, his soul will receive the grace and salvation that his good life and good works earned.”

Foster was the No. 2 White House lawyer, serving under Bernard Nussbaum, a Manhattan lawyer who is one of Clinton’s closest advisers. Foster kept a low profile, which is common for White House attorneys.

He had a role in the White House’s controversial firing of seven travel office employees but he was not singled out for criticism in a White House review of the issue.

The review said that after being alerted to alleged accounting problems in the travel office, Foster agreed to a financial review of the office by an accounting firm and asked the FBI to await the results before proceeding with its own investigation.

He also told Mrs. Clinton about the situation in the travel office.

Nussbaum’s office has been blamed for failing to detect problems in the intended nominations of Judge Kimba M. Wood as attorney general and Zoe Baird, also for attorney general.

Sources who knew Foster said he had been upset by negative publicity about the Administration and his own role in it.

“In the last week or so he had been very upset,” one friend told the Washington Post. “What happens to people is they kind of end up feeling that they’re responsible for everything that’s going on. He came here and his family came here with the highest of expectations and hopes and there had been some fairly rough sledding.”

Foster was close to the Clintons and was among friends who attended the funeral of Mrs. Clinton’s father, Hugh Rodham, in April.

Foster was a 1967 graduate of Davidson College in Davidson, N.C. He received his law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1971. At the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, he specialized in commercial litigation, securities litigation and professional liability litigation.


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