AFTER a massive search of files, the White House yesterday turned over a stack of documents to a grand jury investigating the tangled Whitewater affair. Administration aides subpoenaed to testify were instructed by President Clinton to ``tell them what happened.''
Six of Mr. Clinton's White House aides, as well as four Treasury officials, had been ordered to appear yesterday, but some were subsequently given permission to testify on a later date. Two of Clinton's closest advisers - Bruce Lindsey, a senior adviser, and Harold Ickes, deputy chief of staff - were among those who said their appearances were postponed.
On Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans demanding a separate congressional probe said they were willing to let the grand jury hear evidence before they would insist on their public hearings.
Robert Fiske, the Whitewater special counsel, went to Capitol Hill to request that Republicans hold off their hearings so they would not compromise his probe. He called the White House ``very responsive and cooperative'' and said its phase of his inquiry would be completed in a few months. He said he would have no objections to congressional hearings after that.
Administration officials were drawn into the Whitewater investigation last week by disclosures that aides were briefed on the investigation by federal regulators, raising questions about whether it could have been compromised. One disclosure came in congressional testimony by Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman, one of the four Treasury officials under subpoena.
The New York Times reported yesterday that there were at least two additional contacts, including one last month in which Mr. Altman spoke with a senior White House official about whether he should recuse himself from the Whitewater case.
White House Chief of Staff Mack McLarty is expected to be subpoenaed, along with George Stephanopoulos, a senior aide. Other subpoenaed officials include: Bernard Nussbaum, White House counsel, who resigned Saturday; Mark Gearan, communications director; Margaret Williams, Mrs. Clinton's chief of staff; and Lisa Caputo, Mrs. Clinton's press secretary. Public suspects wrongdoing
MORE than 60 percent of those questioned in a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll believe Clinton has done something either unethical or illegal in connection with Whitewater. Some 43 percent disapprove of the way Clinton has handled the investigation, while 36 percent approve. On whether there has been wrongdoing, 18 percent said Clinton probably had done something illegal while 43 percent said he probably had done something unethical, but not illegal. That left 31 percent who said he had done nothing seriously wrong.