Is Clinton Investigating GOP Congressmen?

Is Clinton Investigating GOP Congressmen?

Is Clinton Investigating GOP Congressmen?

Answers to your questions about the news.
Aug. 11 1998 2:43 PM

Is Clinton Investigating GOP Congressmen?

Is the White House digging up sexual dirt on Republican congressmen? Many pundits talk as if this is proven fact. What is the evidence?

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First, former Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos said in February that "White House allies" were "starting to whisper" about such a retaliatory investigation. Second, a Democratic National Committee member from California named Bob Mulholland said in May that he planned to begin investigating Congressmen. The White House and the DNC quickly distanced themselves from Mulholland, and Mulholland eventually agreed to drop his plan.

Third, Clinton has hired famous private investigator Terry Lenzner. What is Lenzner investigating? The Washington Post cites sources who say Lenzner has compiled a dossier on Lewinsky. The New York Times cites sources who say Lenzner may have investigated Starr and his deputies. Neither of these papers suggests Lenzner has been looking into the lives of Congressmen on the White House's behalf.

Finally, an article posted on August 5 in Salon has been interpreted to mean that Clinton operatives are digging dirt. Salon's source is "one close ally of the president." In fact, the article barely makes any claim at all. It says: "Die-hard Clinton loyalists are spreading the word that a long-ignored but fearsome tactic has now resurfaced as an element in the president's survival strategy: The threat of exposing the sexual improprieties of Republican critics." This sentence--the clearest in the piece--does not say that Clinton has actually authorized private investigators. It might just mean that some of his allies are considering such a move. Or it might not even mean that.

Of course, none of the above proves that Clinton isn't compiling files on possible Congressional opponents. But no one has produced any serious evidence that he is. In fact, no one has really asserted outright that he's doing so.