Hillary Clinton: Yes, We Made Lots of Mistakes

Clearing the air with Hillary Rodham Clinton

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The First Lady met for 30 minutes last Saturday with Ann Blackman and Nina Burleigh to discuss Whitewater and its effect on herself and her family. Excerpts:

TIME: As a private citizen, under a potential legal cloud, you have an interest in not disclosing information. But as the First Lady, you have a responsibility to be candid about Whitewater. Which comes first?

Clinton: We have been candid. We have been candid all the way through this. We made an investment decision that lost money. We did the best we could, always, to be as straightforward on this as we could, based on what we knew. We have fully cooperated with the grand jury, with the special counsel; we have been more than open and candid. We have not denied any documents, we have claimed no privilege. But for years, now, we've been asked questions that we don't know the answers to. We did not run the company, we did not make its decisions, we did not have its documents or its record. So we could not answer many of your questions anyway. We did the very best we could with what we knew.

TIME: Jim McDougal ((head of the Madison S&L)) claims that your Whitewater contribution was $13,000, not the $69,000 cited in the 1992 Lyons report on Whitewater commissioned by your husband.

Clinton: Jim didn't have any documents. He can recall only from his memory.

TIME: Do you think you may have overdeducted on your income tax in those years?

Clinton: Well, we don't know. We don't believe so, but during the Lyons report, they brought to our attention two deductions that were supported in documents which we had but were contradicted in documents we had never seen until they were collected for that report. And once that was brought to our attention, we paid back, because we're not out to take any advantage of anybody. We are only able to act on the knowledge we had at the time. But there were activities that we didn't know anything about that have only recently been brought to our attention. And as we gather more information, we will act appropriately, as we did based on the information we had at a previous time.

TIME: How do you respond to questions of conflicts of interest raised by your representation of Madison?

Clinton: I don't know of any charges other than this incident arising out of a limited representation I had of Madison in which a request for a legal opinion was made to the ((Arkansas)) securities commissioner. I don't know of any other legitimate claims; now there are lots of illegitimate claims floating around these days, and apparently you can say anything these days and get somebody to prove it. We're trying to break through all that and get to what the facts are.

TIME: If Congress asks you to testify, will you?

Clinton: We'll have to see if that's what Congress decides to do.

TIME: Did you make any mistakes?

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