Mrs. Clinton Is Subpoenaed by Grand Jury


First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating the Whitewater controversy and will testify under oath Friday, the White House announced Monday.

Her appearance marks the first time that the wife of a president has been compelled to testify in a criminal proceeding. The White House said that it was in keeping with “her long-standing pledge to cooperate fully to answer all legitimate questions.”

Prosecutors working for independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr want to ask Mrs. Clinton what she knows about the recent discovery in the White House living quarters of long-missing law firm billing records, subpoenaed two years ago.


The White House has said that it does not know how copies of the records, made public after their discovery, wound up in the residence. Carolyn Huber, a personal aide to Mrs. Clinton, testified last week that she found them on a table in the “book room” next to the first lady’s private office.

“They appeared there. I thought they had been left for me to take down and put in the file,” Huber told the Senate Whitewater investigating committee. President Clinton told an interviewer: “I don’t have an answer about how they appeared.”

The records deal with Mrs. Clinton’s representation in the 1980s of a failed Arkansas savings and loan that is at the heart of the Whitewater investigation.

The material is viewed as important because it shows that Mrs. Clinton billed Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, which was owned by the Clintons’ investment partner in the Whitewater real estate deal, for 60 hours of work on legal matters over 15 months in the mid-1980s. Mrs. Clinton has said she did “minimal” work for Madison while she was with the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Ark.

In addition, the billing records bear some handwritten notes by Vincent Foster, a colleague of Mrs. Clinton at the Rose Law Firm who came to Washington with the Clintons as deputy White House counsel before committing suicide in July, 1993.

The records also state that Mrs. Clinton drafted a document in 1986 related to a fictitious real estate deal not directly related to Whitewater but involving the head of Madison Guaranty. A spokesman for House Banking and Financial Services Committee Chairman Jim Leach (R-Iowa) has said that puts the first lady “at the center of a fraudulent deal.”


Mark Fabiani, a White House associate counsel, promised cooperation with Starr’s grand jury. “White House staff members and personal counsel will also provide testimony to the grand jury pursuant to subpoenas” as a sign of further cooperation with Starr’s investigation, he said.

Mrs. Clinton has three times answered questions under oath from Whitewater prosecutors at the White House, Fabiani added.

A prominent defense lawyer not connected to the case said the fact that Mrs. Clinton had been subpoenaed by Starr indicates that she is not now suspected of criminal conduct. “Grand juries usually do not subpoena targets, although this is not an absolute rule.”

The deliberate destruction, concealment or withholding of subpoenaed records can constitute felony obstruction of justice, according to legal sources. The Senate Whitewater Committee is investigating the possibility of such a crime, according to some of its GOP members, but the panel has no power to file criminal charges.

David E. Kendall, the Clintons’ personal attorney, told the Senate panel Monday that the first lady would respond to its specific written questions. His offer received a terse reply from Chairman Alfonse M. D’Amato (R-N.Y.), who said that the committee “looks forward to hearing Mrs. Clinton’s responses,” but only after investigators gather more evidence.

The panel’s future remains somewhat in doubt as a partisan battle began over D’Amato’s request to extend the inquiry beyond the panel’s Feb. 29 cutoff. Democrats said that the panel could conclude by then and does not need $600,000 more to finish its work.


Huber, Mrs. Clinton’s aide who testified last week, told senators that the room where she found the missing records was open only to a handful of people and was off-limits to the general White House staff. Access is limited to the Clintons and a few maids and personal attendants, she said.

But in a U.S. News & World Report interview, President Clinton said “there were people in and out of that room all the time. . . . Anybody that goes into the gym at the White House, you’ve got to go through the book room to get to the gym.

Times staff writers Edwin Chen and Sara Fritz contributed to this story.