Whitewater, campaign finance issues will only intensify, observers say President Faces Legal, Ethical Scrutiny in His Second Term
President Clinton and his advisers may have hoped that his re-election with 49 percent of the popular vote would bring a halt to the seeming endless swirl of allegations and innuendoes.Skip to next paragraph
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But political observers say that the same legal and ethics questions that dogged the Clinton administration in its first term - Whitewater, Filegate, Travelgate, and Asiagate - will only intensify during its second.
Never before in the history of the White House has a newly elected second-term president faced as many unresolved legal and ethical questions as Mr. Clinton.
Observers cite a potentially embarrassing sexual-harassment case against Clinton and the continuing Whitewater criminal investigation of the president and first lady.
The Whitewater case is likely to be heard by the US Supreme Court in January, and independent counsel Kenneth Starr has said that a grand jury investigating the case is making "very substantial" progress.
In addition, Republican leaders in Congress are vowing to continue their own investigations and launch new ones into suspected illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic Party from foreign firms.
Given all these inquiries, Clinton may be well on his way to a legacy as the nation's most-investigated leader. What remains to be seen is whether the allegations and innuendoes translate into criminal indictments.
White House officials insist there is no substance to what they view as a politically inspired smear campaign. The lingering whiff of scandal has been a source of frustration.
"It has been three years now. Still there have been no [formal] allegations, let alone proof, of wrong doing against the president or the first lady," says Mark Fabiani, an associate counsel at the White House. "But we can't do anything about that. We will just wait until the work ends."
When the work ends, the key questions that should be answered include:
*Were the Clintons criminally involved in the network of insider deals and financial scams that seem to characterize the interconnection of business and politics in Little Rock in the 1980s?
*Did the president or his wife use the power of the White House to in any way impede or obstruct criminal investigations of the Whitewater real estate deal or other related inquiries?
*Did Hillary Rodham Clinton make false statements to Congress when she said she played no role in firing seven members of the White House travel office?
*Did anyone at the White House seek to use for political purposes the FBI background files of 900 prominent Republicans?
*Were there any quid pro quos between large campaign contributions from foreign companies such as the Indonesia-based Lippo Group and policy decisions or actions by the president and his administration?
"Of second-term presidents there has never been a line-up of ethical and legal problems that comes close to this," says Charles Jones, a presidential scholar at the University of Wisconsin.