Billing records

A record of the records

The federal grand jury tries to follow a paper trail

January 26, 1996
Web posted at: 2:00 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Terry Frieden

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The central question Hillary Rodham Clinton may face during her testimony before the grand jury Friday is a simple "Where were the documents?"

The first lady has indicated that she will not be able to solve that mystery, but there are numerous clues pertaining to the travels of 116 pages of old billing records from the Rose law firm in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The independent counsel demanded the documents two years ago, but they weren't handed over until early this month. Among other things, those records show the extent and type of legal work Hillary Rodham Clinton performed in 1985 and 1986 for the savings and loan owned by the Clintons' Whitewater business partner.

That information and more remained in the Rose law firm files until a computer printout was made in 1992. That's when Rose partner and Clinton friend Vincent Foster asked for a copy of files from Rick Massey, the junior attorney who had done most of the work.

"I would not have given him my files had I known (Foster and Clinton) were going to leave the firm," Massey said. "I wouldn't have done it."

Ronald Clark, the man who now heads the firm, says that the records never should have left the firm, as they are solely the property of the client.

But Clinton campaign aides were concerned about press inquiries into the Clinton's Whitewater real estate deal, so Foster provided the records to the campaign staff.


Just who had custody of the records from 1992 until last August is still unknown. Some Rose records were, for a time, in a basement of Rose partner and Clinton friend Webster Hubbell.

And some records were brought to the White House after Clinton's inauguration. A parallel investigation by the Senate is exploring whether these documents were in Foster's files at the time of his 1993 suicide.

"These records may have been taken from Vince Foster's office because we do know that Vince Foster's handwriting is all over them," said Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-New York, who chairs the Senate's Whitewater investigation committee. (85K AIFF sound or 85K WAV sound)

One Secret Service Agent claims the first lady's chief of staff removed some files from Foster's office the night he died. But Margaret Williams denies that she removed any files from the office.

Last August, a personal aide to the Clintons boxed up some papers and other items from the Clinton residence and moved them to her office downstairs. And just three weeks ago, she began to unpack those boxes.


"I decided to start to put my things up on the shelves and I picked up this billing memo and opened it and I was surprised" to find the missing Rose billing files, said Carolyn Huber.

Huber said the discovery was troubling, and that she quickly called David Kendall, the Clintons' personal attorney. Kendall released the documents the next day, leading to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's subpoena of Mrs. Clinton to explain the missing links in the chair of custody of those documents.

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