NOVEMBER 07, 2005
Amidst the media frenzy surrounding Special Counsel Fitzgerald and the indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, another investigation’s website has quietly opened: the website for Independent Counsel Barrett, the man in charge of investigating former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros.
In 1994 the Department of Justice received press reports concerning then HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and a woman with whom he had a prior relationship, Linda Medlar. In the reports, Medlar alleged Cisneros had lied to the FBI during his background investigation concerning payments he had made to her. Medlar had recorded telephone conversations with Cisneros over the course of almost four years.
Here is the basic information used in the 1995 application for the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate the matter:
Based on these allegations, the Department obtained and reviewed the transcripts of the telephone conversations and the FBI report of Secretary Cisneros’s interview during his background investigation. This review established that information provided by Secretary Cisneros concerning his payments to Medlar was false. Among other things, he informed the FBI that his payments to Medlar were no larger than $2,500 at a time and no more than $10,000 per year, when in fact, many of his payments were substantially larger, and the yearly totals were between $42,000 and $60,000.
As a result, the Division for the Purpose of Appointing Independent Counsels (“Special Division”) appointed David M. Barrett as Independent Counsel on May 24, 1995. Barrett was given the power to investigate fully and to prosecute offenses arising from Cisneros’ false testimony. Additionally, Barrett had the “jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute any person or entity for conspiracy to make such false statements, any related offenses, and any criminal interference with the Independent Counsel’s investigation.”
According to the Washington Post, which published a story highly critical of the length and high cost of the investigation, “Barrett is the last independent counsel of the Clinton era, still in business six years after Cisneros pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about money he paid to a former mistress. Cisneros paid a $10,000 fine and a $25 court assessment in 1999 and was later pardoned by Clinton.”
The Post article does mention that Barrett has recently been looking into an IRS audit of Cisneros, an audit that was allegedly stifled after being transferred to Washington.
Though Cisneros paid his fine years ago for lying to the FBI, and was a recipient of one of Bill Clinton’s controversial last-minute pardons, Barrett’s ongoing investigation has new life. Lawyers at the Washington firm Williams and Connolly, who work for Cisneros and both Clintons, have been fighting to suppress publication of the final report, which will allege various abuses of power by the Clinton administration. They don’t want it made public in the middle of Hillary’s run for re-election.
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