Vince: We Hardly Knew Ye
Part 12

Being a recap of the death, and various ongoing investigations into same, of White House aide Vincent Foster, jr.

(With apologies to his family, who prefer to "let sleeping Fosters lie.")

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

With the U.S. about to invade Bosnia in order to promote peace ("War is peace"); with things getting a little hot in Washington (and not just the weather) for that big, lovable clown from Arkansas; with investigations heating up; with the "special people" beginning to panic -- how convenient for the comfortable classes that the situation in Bosnia should heat up just about now.

So that the commissar class doesn't get too comfortable, I thought I'd offer a bit of a history lesson on the death, as well as the on-and-off investigations into same, of Vincent Foster, jr.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

MAY 4, 1994

WASHINGTON (Reuter) - Whitewater special counsel Robert Fiske has concluded that White House aide Vincent Foster killed himself and soon will issue a report wrapping up that part of his investigation, officials familiar with the inquiry said Wednesday.

They said Fiske has told associates his report accepting the official police version that Foster committed suicide last year because he was depressed may be released by the middle of May.

Fiske initially planned to issue his report on Foster's death by the end of April, but the officials said it would take slightly longer than expected to complete it.

A spokeswoman for Fiske said the Foster report would be made public, but did not know when. She said Fiske would have no comment before the release of the report.

The U.S. Park Police concluded that Foster, a White House deputy counsel and longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, committed suicide when he shot himself July 20 in a park outside Washington.

News media reports quoted paramedics who found Foster's body as questioning whether he killed himself. The White House earlier this year denied rumors that Foster may have been murdered and his body moved after his death.

It was disclosed last year that documents related to the Whitewater Development Corporation, a failed Arkansas real estate venture that included the Clintons as partners, had been removed from Foster's office after his suicide.

The documents have been subpoenaed by the Justice Department and eventually were turned over to Fiske.

One official said Foster, the personal lawyer for the Clintons, had the documents in his office because he was helping fill out required government financial disclosure forms.

It was not known whether Fiske's report would deal with allegations that former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum may have impeded the park police's investigation by refusing to give them the Whitewater documents.

Fiske appears to be moving quickly to wrap up the Washington phase of his investigation, which would clear the way for congressional hearings.

Besides Foster's death, his Washington investigation involves whether any White House and Treasury Department contacts improperly interfered with a government probe into the failed Madison Guaranty savings bank linked to the affair.

All of the 12 current or former White House and Treasury Department officials who received a subpoena have gone before a federal grand jury for questioning about the contacts.

The officials said Fiske has no plans to reconvene the grand jury.

But they predicted that Fiske's investigation in Arkansas could be lengthy, lasting as long as two years.

He is looking into the land deals and whether any of Madison's funds had been improperly diverted to Whitewater or to the 1984 re-election campaign for then-Governor Clinton.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Whitewater prosecutors have concluded White House deputy counsel Vince Foster's death last summer was a suicide, an individual familiar with the investigation said Wednesday.

``They have conveyed to us that this is what they expect to put out on the suicide question,'' the source said, adding the conclusion was ``made on the basis of forensics evidence.''

        The individual spoke only on condition of anonymity.
        Special prosecutor Robert Fiske issued a carefully worded

statement Wednesday, saying only that he will issue a report on Foster's death ``as soon as we can consistent with doing the job properly.''

Fiske said the review was ``thorough and complete'' and has involved numerous interviews, extensive forensic analyses and laboratory work which ``will be an important part of the final report.'' He gave no timetable for release of the report.

Foster was found shot to death at a suburban Washington park last July 20. U.S. Park Police ruled the death a suicide.

But speculative news stories raising questions about that conclusion led Fiske recently to hire pathologists to re-examine the evidence as part of his sweeping inquiry into the Clintons' business dealings in Arkansas.

Among the things Foster had been working on when he died were matters associated with Whitewater, an unsuccessful Arkansas land deal in which the Clintons were co-owners with James McDougal, the owner of a failed savings and loan now under investigation.

Fiske, whose investigation is based in Little Rock, Ark., assigned the Foster review to his Washington office headed by Roderick C. Lankler, an experienced New York homicide prosecutor.

Fiske's report is also expected to address the conduct of White House officials in the days immediately after Foster's suicide. Whitewater documents were found in Foster's White House office after his death, but White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum refused to let investigators see them last July. Later, they were turned over to investigators.

A torn-up handwritten note by Foster was belatedly found in his briefcase several days after Nussbaum searched it. Some 30 hours passed before it was turned over to investigators, and the FBI concluded that time was spent checking with Foster's widow and with Clinton to resolve privacy and executive privilege questions.

Fiske also announced Wednesday that he was hiring two more lawyers, increasing the size of his staff to 11. They are:

--James E. Reeves, a partner in a Missouri law firm, who will prosecute Little Rock businessmen Charles Matthews and Eugene Fitzhugh, who are accused of conspiring to defraud the Small Business Administration. They are scheduled to go on trial in June.

--Gabrielle R. Wolohojian, an attorney at the Boston law firm of Hale & Dorr since 1991.

The White House on Wednesday was concerned about another delicate matter -- a lawsuit threatened by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones, who has said then-Governor Clinton made an improper sexual advance to her in 1991.

Jones was to file suit Thursday in Little Rock, accusing Clinton of causing her ``severe emotional distress'' and violating her civil rights, according to her attorney, Daniel Traylor.

Jones told reporters in February -- at a news conference connected to the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Committee -- that she spurned an unwanted advance from Clinton on May 8, 1991.

Traylor said he would be seeking an apology from Clinton and ``some type of damages.''

Clinton's new attorney, Robert Bennett, said the incident never occurred and told The Associated Press that Jones' attorney sought a job for her in exchange for her silence, but Clinton rejected the idea.

        Traylor did not return calls Wednesday to his office.
        The Washington Post reported Wednesday that two of Jones' family

members and two friends said she had told them about the incident with Clinton on the day it allegedly occurred. The Post said Jones repeated her story in a series of interviews over the past several months.

``This event plain and simple didn't happen,'' Bennett told the Post. ``I believe this is really just another effort to rewrite the results of the election and ... distract the president from his agenda. I think this lady is being used.''

Brian Francis Redman "The Big C"

Coming to you from Illinois -- "The Land of Skolnick"