An appeals court in Washington, D.C., today rejected a request by former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton that the federal government reimburse them for legal fees incurred during the Whitewater independent counsel investigation.
According to news reports, the three-judge panel OK’d only the reimbursement of one item, totaling $85,312, while rejecting the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for over $3.4 million in legal fees.
“We do not find these arguments persuasive,” said the ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. “We harbor no doubt that the allegations surrounding the Clintons, Madison Guaranty and Whitewater would have been similarly investigated and prosecuted by the Department of Justice.”
While the investigation did not result in indictment of the Clintons, the Associated Press reports, the court noted the independent investigation into Whitewater and other matters ultimately resulted in 24 indictments, at least 16 convictions and the impeachment of the president.
According to the AP, the couple’s lawyer, David Kendall, noted that former President Ronald Reagan was reimbursed for 72 percent of his legal costs stemming from the Iran-Contra investigation, and his vice president, George Bush, was reimbursed for 59 percent of his costs in the same matter.
However, Kendall said, the Clintons were reimbursed for only 2 percent of their request for Whitewater costs.
“The facts and the numbers speak for themselves,” Kendall is quoted by the Associated Press as saying. “The good news is that the partisan Whitewater smoke-and-mirrors investigation is finally over.”
The Whitewater investigation by independent counsel Kenneth Starr began in 1994.
Its initial subject was a failed Arkansas real estate venture involving the Clintons in the 1980s that was linked to the collapse of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, a Little Rock savings bank run by the Clintons’ Whitewater business partners.
The probe eventually expanded to include the death of deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster, the dismissal of White House travel office employees, receipt by the White House of a number of FBI files and the issue of whether President Clinton lied or obstructed justice to hide an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.