Special Counsel Expands Whitewater Investigation

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: In a development that will complicate the Clintons' hopes of putting Whitewater behind them as quickly as possible, Whitewater special counsel Kenneth Starr today extended his investigation to include Travelgate testimony given by former presidential aide David Watkins. Attorney General Janet Reno had asked the court that appointed Starr approve the move, out of concern that her separate Justice Department inquiry could "seriously interfere with the independent counsel's ongoing investigation." In 1993, Watkins told the General Accounting Office that an evaluation done by a private accounting firm evaluation inspired the firings. However, in a memo that appeared in January, Watkins claimed that it was Mrs. Clinton who demanded that the travel office staff be dismissed. He writes, we ... knew that there would be hell to pay if ... we failed" to remove the travel office employees "in conformity with the first lady's wishes." Counsel Starr was already investigating Watkins' statements concerning the travel office in his inquiry into the suicide of former deputy White House counsel Vince Foster. Janet Reno wrote the court that "It would be appropriate to expand his jurisdiction to include Watkins' statement to GAO on that same subject," she said. Yesterday, Mrs. Clinton told congressional investigators in a written response that she doesn't remember discussing the travel office firings with Watkins and that she played no part in the dismissals. The travel office staff was fired soon after the Clinton's arrived and wa quickly replaced by employees from a travel agency in Little Rock.