WASHINGTON -- Senate investigators sought yesterday to show President Clinton was being deceptive in his claims that he cannot recall making fund-raising phone calls from the White House.
Republicans on the committee chaired by Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee commended businessman Richard Jenrette after two hours of testimony in which he acknowledged receiving phone calls from Clinton in 1994 and from Vice President Al Gore in 1996 asking him for political donations.
Jenrette told the Governmental Affairs Committee he wrote five checks totaling $50,000 to the Democratic National Committee after the president called him to say he wanted to raise a total of $2 million "from 40 good friends" -- an average of $50,000 apiece.
Thompson and two other Republican senators told Jenrette that his "candid testimony" had cast doubt on Clinton's forthrightness in saying he may or may not have made fund-raising calls.
The president has said repeatedly that he cannot recall soliciting donors by phone from the White House but would not deny the possibility. But he has added, "I believe what the vice president did and what I did was legal and within the letter of the law."
Senate committee lawyers said the White House provided them with telephone records yesterday indicating that Clinton's call to Jenrette was made from a private line in the White House residence, which some authorities claim avoids even the slight chance that the president may have violated a legal prohibition against raising campaign funds in a federal building.
Pub Date: 10/30/97