The government will pay a small portion of the legal fees accumulated by former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton during the independent counsel investigation of their failed Arkansas land deal, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia authorized a payment of about $85,000 a small fraction of the $3.5 million the Clintons had sought. The costs stemmed from the Whitewater investigation, which lasted more than seven years and cost the government $70 million.In making their decision, the three-judge panel rejected the Clintons’ argument that they would never have faced such an expensive, lengthy process if not for their positions as president and first lady.
“We harbor no doubt that in the absence of the independent counsel statute the allegations surrounding the Clintons, Madison Guaranty and Whitewater would have been similarly investigated and prosecuted by the Department of Justice,” the panel wrote.
The Clintons were never indicted, but the appeals court’s 14-page decision notes the independent investigation into Whitewater and other matters ultimately resulted in 24 indictments, at least 16 convictions and the impeachment of the president. The Senate refused to convict Clinton on charges filed by the House.
The special appeals court panel was the same one that appointed Kenneth Starr to take over the investigation in 1994 and then authorized him to investigate matters surrounding former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.