Hannity asserted that "Whitewater and the death of Vince Foster" are "chapters remaining open" for Sen. Clinton

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

On the July 15 edition of Fox News' Hannity's America, discussing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, host Sean Hannity asserted: "[T]here are still many chapters remaining open from her time at the Rose Law Firm. Take Whitewater and the death of Vince Foster." In fact, Foster's death has been conclusively determined to have been a suicide. Moreover, after extensive investigations, three different independent counsels determined that there was insufficient evidence to bring any charges against the Clintons in the Whitewater matter. The July 15 segment was the latest edition of "The Clinton Chapters," a regular series on Hannity's America whose assertions Media Matters for America has repeatedly debunked.

In September 2000, independent counsel Robert Ray concluded a six-year, $60 million investigation that found insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the Clintons had committed any crimes in connection to the Whitewater controversy. According to the statement from Ray that accompanied the independent counsel's final report:

This office determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either President or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in any criminal conduct involving Madison Guaranty, C.M.S. [Capital Management Services Inc.], or Whitewater Development or knew of such conduct. The evidence relating to their testimony and conduct, in connection with this investigation and other investigations involving the same entities, was also, in the judgment of this office, insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either of them committed any criminal offense, including perjury or obstruction of justice.

Although several conservative outlets have suggested that the Clintons were somehow involved in Foster's death -- as Media Matters has documented (here, here, and here) -- numerous investigations determined that his death was a suicide. The Office of the Independent Counsel -- then headed by Kenneth Starr -- completed its inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Foster's death with a report issued on October 11, 1997, which concluded that "based on investigation and analysis of the evidentiary record, that Mr. Foster committed suicide by gunshot in Fort Marcy Park."

In addition, after asserting that "Hillary's time as partner in the law firm was closely associated with her husband's political seat in the state of Arkansas," Hannity selectively quoted reporter George Wells' statement in a March 19, 1994, Baltimore Sun article:

HANNITY: But the truth is, Hillary's time as partner in the law firm was closely associated with her husband's political seat in the state of Arkansas. George Wells, a reporter who covered the courts for Arkansas papers, said the following in a 1994 interview with the Baltimore Sun, quote: "A few people would say that the Rose Law Firm was married to Governor Clinton -- and there were businesses that thought it was to their advantage with the state to go to Rose." End quote.

Although Hannity ended the quote there, Wells actually went on to note that "no one in the firm that I know of ever solicited business based on the governor's wife being a partner there":

Some say the very fact that the governor's wife was in the firm gave it an unfair advantage in luring clients and state business.

"A few people would say that the Rose Law Firm was married to Governor Clinton," says George Wells, who has covered courts for several newspapers in town.

"And there were businesses that thought it was to their advantage with the state to go with Rose," Mr. Wells continues.

"But no one in the firm that I know of ever solicited business based on the governor's wife being a partner there."

Hannity also discussed what he termed "the infamous scandal where billing records went missing from the Rose Law Firm." Hannity asserted that the documents "had to disappear," adding, "[D]uring the investigation, prosecutors tried to link Hillary to Madison Guaranty, but couldn't because there were no billing records. That was until they were found by Carolyn Huber, a White House aide and former office manager of the Rose Firm." However, prosecutors were not prevented from investigating; the Office of the Independent Counsel received the billing records in February 1996, according to a February 22, 1996, Washington Post report. The independent counsel's office -- at that point headed by Robert Ray, a Republican, like the two investigators appointed before him -- concluded 4 1/2 years later that "the evidence was insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either President or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in any criminal conduct involving Madison Guaranty."

Moreover, according to a March 1, 1996, New York Times account, while an "inquiry was quickly reopened after the White House produced copies of Rose firm billing records," investigators at the law firm of Pillsbury Madison & Sutro, in a report prepared for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), found "no grounds for a civil lawsuit" against Rose Law Firm for work done on behalf of Madison Guaranty. The Times report continued:

Federal savings and loan regulators had announced in December that they would not sue Mr. or Mrs. Clinton in connection with the Madison failure. But the inquiry was quickly reopened after the White House produced copies of Rose firm billing records, which had been missing for more than two years. The records outlined Mrs. Clinton's work as a lawyer for Madison.

Two weeks ago, lawyers representing the F.D.I.C. interviewed Mrs. Clinton for more than two hours at the White House. Much of that interview was devoted to the newly discovered billing records, which indicate that Mrs. Clinton had worked on a land deal known as Castle Grande.

According to the transcript, released by the White House today, Mrs. Clinton answered many questions by saying she could not recall details of her work 11 years ago on the real estate deal, which has been deemed by Federal regulators to have been a sham transaction.

But the Pillsbury report said none of the newly discovered evidence suggested that Mrs. Clinton or other Rose firm lawyers were aware of the fraud.

A February 29, 1996, Washington Post article noted that Pillsbury Madison had previously served as outside counsel investigating Rose Law Firm's work for Madison Guaranty for the Resolution Trust Corp. (RTC), "the agency created to dispose of failed S&Ls," until that agency was dissolved January 1, 1996, leaving the FDIC to continue the investigation. The Post also reported: "The retention of the Pillsbury firm [by the RTC] in 1994 drew sharp complaints from the White House because Republican former U.S. attorney Jay B. Stephens, a critic of the Clinton administration, was a member of the Pillsbury team evaluating Madison." A March 26, 1994, Washington Post article described Pillsbury Madison as "a law firm that has done extensive work for the RTC, which regularly hires outside lawyers to pursue cases against lawyers, accountants and others who may have contributed to the collapse of savings and loans companies."

From the July 15 edition of Fox News' Hannity's America:

HANNITY: And welcome back to Hannity's America. It's time now for the "Clinton Chapters" and a look back at another part of Hillary's past that she's trying to hide. In this week's installment, we take you inside her days of practicing law, and the cases that may come back to haunt her.

[...]

HANNITY: Then there was the infamous scandal where billing records went missing from the Rose Law Firm, and after nearly two years of searches and subpoenas, they turned up in the first lady's book room at the White House. Now, these were documents that detailed her work that she did for the savings and loan association Madison Guaranty. Hillary and Rose were hired by Madison Guaranty and the McDougals [Whitewater figures Jim and Susan McDougal] to represent them after the S&L failed in the late '80s.

Jim McDougal was convicted of 18 felony counts of fraud, conspiracy, and the counts were brought for bad loans made by Madison S&L. But those documents had to disappear. The Clintons were in bed with the McDougals in the Whitewater Development Corporation deal, and that project also went sour. Yet during the investigation, prosecutors tried to link Hillary to Madison Guaranty, but couldn't because there were no billing records. That was until they were found by Carolyn Huber, a White House aide and former office manager of the Rose Firm. Like that isn't a conflict of interest.

Former adviser to Bill Clinton George Stephanopoulos recounts how these times at the Rose Law Firm impacted Bill's campaign for president in his book All Too Human [Little, Brown & Co., 1999], saying, quote, "Hillary's investments and legal practice was embarrassing but not scandalous. The early stories were too convoluted to do any real political harm, but the Hillary controversy reached a fever pitch during the Illinois primary," end quote. But they did pay a toll on her husband's campaign.

[...]

HANNITY: But the truth is, Hillary's time as partner in the law firm was closely associated with her husband's political seat in the state of Arkansas. George Wells, a reporter who covered the courts for Arkansas papers, said the following in a 1994 interview with the Baltimore Sun, quote: "A few people would say that the Rose Law Firm was married to Governor Clinton -- and there were businesses that thought it was to their advantage with the state to go to Rose." End quote.

[...]

HANNITY: So, with this chapter now opened on the Clintons, we understand why she wants to hide this part of her story. But we have to ask, how does she possibly think she'll be able to escape this, too? Besides all the incidents we just mentioned, there are still many chapters remaining open from her time at the Rose Law Firm. Take, for instance, Whitewater and the death of Vince Foster. Now, this is why this is another part of Hillary's forgotten past that is anything but closed.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Sean Hannity
Show/Publication
Hannity's America
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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