Whitewater Hits Close To Home

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WASHINGTON: The Whitewater scandal has moved one step closer to the Oval Office with the naming of Bruce Lindsey, a trusted aide to President Clinton, as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of two Arkansas bankers. The two defendants are charged with making illegal contributions to Clinton's Arkansas gubernatorial campaign and with concealing large withdrawals from the IRS. Prosecutors have alleged that Lindsey, Clinton's 1990 campaign treasurer, conspired with the bankers to withdraw over $50,000 in campaign funds without reporting the transactions to the IRS. Lindsey has admitted to withdrawing $30,000 for a get-out-the-vote effort in May 1990, but maintains that he divided the amount into checks under $10,000 in order to conceal Clinton's campaign strategy from opponents, not to hide the transaction from IRS monitors. Lindsey also claims that he listed the amounts in post-election expense reports. "It is just ludicrous to suggest that I would conspire (to hide the withdrawals) and then turn around and publicly disclose the same information," Lindsey said. President Clinton was quick to defend him: "I'm confident he didn't do anything wrong. He was thoroughly investigated and not charged, with ample opportunities." The term unindicted co-conspirator, most famous for its application to President Nixon in Watergate, typically indicates that the prosecution believes an individual is guilty, but does not have enough evidence to indict. Prosecutors may use the designation to introduce testimony implicating Lindsey, even though he will not be charged with a crime. Even so, that action could hit the White House harder than than an indictment, says TIME's Jef McAllister: "Calling Lindsey an unindicted co-conspirator is more damaging to Clinton's campaign this year, in a sense, because Lindsey can't defend himself." -->