White House Accused Anew in Travelgate

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Turning up the heat on the White House over the so-called Travelgate affair, Republican congressman William Clinger said Wednesday that the office of former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum requested and obtained confidential FBI background files on Billy Dale seven months after Dale was fired as chief of the White House travel office. Clinger, chair of the House Reform and Oversight Committee, said that the unsigned request, with Nussbaum's name typed on it, turned up among 1,000 pages of documents turned over to his committee by the White House last week. Clinger accused the White House of improperly "digging through the FBI background files of a private citizen." Nussbaum denied any knowledge of a request for Dale's file. The document, dated December 20, 1993, stated that Dale was being considered for renewed access to the White House. Responding on January 6, 1994, while Nussbaum was still White House counsel, the FBI supplied 11 memos and 11 letters concerning Dale to the White House, though it is not clear who received the documents, which were also turned over to the House committee. The White House announced Wednesday that it is investigating the incident. TIME White House correspondent J.F.O. McAllister reports that while it is still unclear whether any laws were broken, "This does not look good for the White House. It does appear to be a genuine screw-up or worse. As an Administration, what you worry about in any kind of scandal is a steady drip, drip, drip of allegations." After firing Dale and several other travel office officials in the spring of 1993, the White House asked the FBI to investigate questions about the handling of travel office finances. Dale was acquitted last year of those charges. In the face of criticism that the White House improperly smeared Dale's reputation, President Clinton apologized to Dale for the treatment he received, and supports legislation now pending in Congress to pay Dale's legal fees. -->