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Judicial Watch • NARA Whitewater OIC report pg 155-175

NARA Whitewater OIC report pg 155-175

NARA Whitewater OIC report pg 155-175

Page 1: NARA Whitewater OIC report pg 155-175


Number of Pages:21

Date Created:January 27, 2016

Date Uploaded to the Library:January 27, 2016

Tags:Hanson, recusal, Eggleston, Altmans, altman, ickes, NARA Whitewater OIC Verdict, docld, OIC, NARA, testified, Whitewater, Nussbaum, Criminal, senator, Williams, White, Congress, meeting, clinton, White House, FBI, FOIA

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Altman testified that does not remember telling Steiner had come under
intense pressure from the White House. was not tinder intense pressure from the White
House not recuse. Altman was quite adamant that the White House did not tell him that his
recusal would unacceptable.
February Altman Decides Not Recuse Himself.
Altman testified that after sleeping the issue, decided that would not
recuse himself, least for the time being. His rationale was that recusal was not required,
would follow Kulkas recommendation any event, and did not want the White House take
his decision personal rebuke.
FOIA(b)3 Rule 6(e),
Federal Rules Criminal Procedure
The evidence indicates that during this conversation, Altman told her that had
decided not recuse himself for the time being. Altman said that his decision did not matter
since would follow Kulkas recommendation, but that the decision made them (meaning the
White House officials) happy.
FOI.~.{b) Rule 6(e),
Feclo::_ral Rules Criminal Procedure
Altman also said that the White
had one request, that Kendall contacted that would aware the timing and the legal issues the statute limitations.
FOii.(b) Rule G(e),
Fecleral Rules Criminal Procedure
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001585 Page 155 A(b)3 Rule 6(e) Federa imin Proc edure
Altman asked Hanson check with Kulka that point.
That morning, Hanson called Kulka, and Kulka said that private counsel (including Kendall)
would contacted due colirse, but that was premature that point. Altman had
objections when Hanson later reported this information back him. 310
Hanson testified that some point she told Altman that she assumed would get
rid his copy the talking points. She did because she did not want version the talking
points lying around that stated that Altman had decided recuse himself prior changing his
mind result the White House meeting. 311 Altman claims not remember this
February Altman Announces His Recusal Decision The White House.
The evidence indicates that sometime after conversation with Bentsen, Altman
called over the White House arrange meet with some the same White House officials had met with the day before. The testimony about how this meeting was set up, what time
day took place, and what occurred the meeting widely varied. short, the evidence shows that Altman set meeting (on short notice)
Williams office for the purpose announcing that had decided not recuse himself for the
time being. arranged the meeting calling either Williams Ickes, and Williams, Ickes,
Eggleston, Nussbaum, and Stephanopoulos may have been attendance. Hanson was late,
311. Hanson testified that she had another similar conversation with Altman where she said him that she assumed had gotten rid his talking points.
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001.585 Page 156
arriving only after Altman had already made his announcement and departed. She then had
discussion about Altrnans recusal decision with possibly Williarris, Ickes, and Eggleston present:
The best evidence indicates that these meetings took place independently-scheduled event
around the lunch hour February although there some testimony that the meeting was
simply precursor regularly scheduled health care meeting Williams office around 6:00
p.m. that evening. 312
Altman testified that called Ickes the afternoon February and said that wanted stop and see hi~ for minute. Altman cannot recall, but thinks possible told Ickes would like talk him prior that evenings 6:00 p.m. health care meeting
that both would attending Williams office the West Wing. Altman does not remember
asking that anyone else present for the conversation with Ickes.
According Altman, went over Williams office the White House meet
with Ickes. Hanson was late arriving and Ickes stood just inside Williams doorway,
Altman told Ickes that for the time being was not going recuse himself. Ickes either said
good simply acknowledged what Altman was saying. some point, Stephanopoulos came and sat down the couch, but Altman had already told Ickes about his recusaL Altman not
sure whether Eggleston was present for this discussion and does not believe Williams was even
According Altman, learned later that evening from Hanson that
312. When the meeting took place, and hence whether was simply precursor another
regularly scheduled meeting the White House unrelated topic, was significant question
for our investigation because the meeting seems more significant
contact was separately-scheduled event rather than casual add-on another meeting.
she had shown just after had left the meeting. the contrary, Williams testified that Altman called her about noon day
two after the February meeting. Altman told her that had decided not recuse himself, and said wanted tell people the White House his decision prior going meeting he.
had scheduled Capitol Hill. (Altmans calendar confirms that was due for meeting the
Hill 1:15 p.m. February 001-DC-00000487.) Williams thinks Altman asked she could
get Ickes and Stephanopoulos together that could tell them that had decided not
recuse himself. Williams told Altman she would try get them together her office the
West Wing five minutes. According Williams, Ickes showed up, but Stephanopoulos
walked late. She also remembers that someone from the Counsels office was there, either
Eggleston Nussbaum. Altman then came into her office and said that had decided not
recuse himself. Ickes may have asked Altman was comfortable with his decision.,
FOIA(b)3 Rule 6(e),
Federal Rules Criminal Procedure
Ickes-initially testified the grand jury that Altman called him the phone
told him the White House within day two the February meeting that would not
recuse himself. When later testified the grand jury, Ickes testified that remembers
meeting with Altman and Williams the doorway her office. Altman said that was not
going recuse. According Ickes, this meeting tQok place before 6:00 p.m. health care
meeting Williams office. Ickes phone log for February shows entry stating, Roger
Altman needs another meeting today, 006-DC-00000206, but Ickes not sure whether that
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001585 Page 158
,..,..-. refers the meeting regarding Altmans recusal decision.
Eggleston testified that was Williams office February with Williams
and Ickes for some unknown reason. Eggleston not sure whether knew Altman would
coming over, but some point Altman stuck his head the office. Altman said that had
decided not recuse for the time being and left.313
Stephanopoulos recalls being health care meeting Williams office that was
about start, and Altman walked and announced that had decided not recuse.
According Hanson, she was having lunch February
FOIA(b)3 Rul 6(e). Fedecal Criminal Pcoceduce
Hansgn testified that when she arrived, Eggleston, Ickes, and Williams were
313. Nussbaum initially testified that remembers running into Ickes Altman the
hallway the West-Wing within few days after February and being informed that Altman
was leaning against recusing himself. his second grand jury appearance, Nussbaum was more
confident had this conversation with Altman February and believed may have also had
the same discussion with Ickes.
314. Hansons schedule card confinns that she had 12:00 p.m. lunch date scheduled the
Old Ebbitt Grill February 329-DC-00000116.
315. Both Hansons secretary and Gross corroborate Hansons version these events, further
supporting the view that the February meeting took place around the lunch hour
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001585 Page 159
standing Williams office, and they told her that Altman had just left. Hanson testified that
Ickes asked her who else was aware that she had recommended Altman that recuse himself.
Hanson remembers giving Ickes three names, Ben Nye (Altmans special assistant), Michael
Levy (the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs), and one other person whose name she does
not now recall. Hanson testified that Ickes said that that was good because that fact got out,
would not look good light Altmans decision not recuse. Hanson responded saying
that she would have recused had she been Altmans position, and Ickes again stated that
would better her advice did not get out. Hanson replied that she would say what she
advised Altman asked./
FOIA(b)3 Fede~al les min cocedu~e
L-.--..J/Egglestoh remembers telling Hanson that Altman had just left and that Altman had told
them would not recuse. Ickes then asked Hanson how many other people knew that she
recommended Altman recuse himself. Hanson responded with list names sufficiently long
that Ickes became uncomfortable. The list included_ Steiner, Levy, and possibly several others.
Ickes testified that saw Hanson the second floor the West Wing within
day two the February meeting, but claims not recall any discussion about Altmans
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001585 Page 160
FOIA(b)3 Rule 6(e), Federal Rules Criminal Procedure
Ickes Discusses The Madison Civil Investigation With The President And Mrs.
Clinton. critical issue for the i!lvestigation was whether anyone present the February
meeting discussed with the Clintons (or anyone else who might have communicated with the
Clintons their counsel) either the fact the meeting the substance the information that
had been conveyed during the February meeting regarding the RTCs handling the statute
limitations issue Altmans recusal. All the participants except Ickes denied having passed this information the Clintons their agents.
Ickes testified that told Clinton the gist what the February meeting had
been about, but Ickes claims not able recall when where did exactly what was
said other than that recounted what had transpired the meeting, including both the statute
limitations and recusal discussions. Ickes believes probably told Clinton about the February
follow-up meeting with Altman during this same discussion. Ickes does doubt that this
conversation would have taken place, however, after the February enactment the extension the statute limitations. 316 Ickes does not recall but believes possible told Clinton that
the RTC would not have time decide whether had claims that intended pursue with full
force. Ickes testified that never discussed with Clinton whether Clinton should sign tolling
316. One possibility explored was whether Ickes conversations with the Clintons may
have taken place after the controversy had erupted regarding the February meeting. While
Ickes was not positive, thought, however, that the discussions took place before February
and before Altman disclosed the February meeting his February testimony.
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001585 Page 161
Ickes remembers having essentially identical but separate conversation with
Mrs. Clinton. similarly does not remember the circumstances that discussion, except that,
like the conversation with Clinton, probably occurred before February 12.
During the course the sununer 1994 investigations, Ickes private counsel, Amy
Sabrin, had conversation with Jane Sherburne and Sheila Cheston, both the White House
Counsels Office. Sherburne and Cheston took notes during this discussion, which Sabrin
apparently conveyed her clients confidences the White House. Portions these notes were
produced the OIC. Both sets notes reveal that Ickes may have also had separate
conversations with each the Clintons regarding Altmans decision not recuse. Sherbumes
notes read: Recalls informing both WJC and HRC (meets with them several
times/wk) separately that Altman not going recuse.
442-DC-00006538, 6538-6539. Chestons notes similarly state (to the best they can
deciphered her handwriting):
Informed HRC individually that w/d not recuse self, mtg
each [at least] I/day and this time. Told between 2/3-24.
442-DC-00006542. -These notes are least generally consistent with Ickes testimony that
believes likely told both Clintons about the February meeting with Altman (at which
Altman announced would not recuse himself).
Mrs. Clinton testified that she did not learn the February meeting until around
the time Altman armounced his recusal (February 2.~). Moreover, she denied having any
discussions with Ickes prior Altmans testimony February regarding the RTCs civil
investigation Madison. She specifically claims not recall Ickes having briefed her the
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001585 Page 162
options the RTC had light the statute limitations filing suit, not filing suit, seeking
tolling agreements. Nor does she remember Ickes discussing with her prior February 24,
Altmans possible recusal.
Clinton testified that did not learn the February meeting until was
disclosed the newspapers. testified that learned basically what had appeared the
press, that Altman had briefed the White House procedural issues relating the RTCs
investigation; did not learn that recusal had been discussed. Clinton further testified that the
first learned that Altman was considering recusal was only when did recuse February
25. Similarly, does not believe was aware prior public reports that Altman had
discussed his possible recusal with the White House. 317
The February Senate Banking Committee Hearing.
During the hearing February 24, Senator Gramm first raised the issue
communications the RTC Treasury with the White House regarding Madison
Whitewater. The following exchange ensued: Mr. Altman, want ask you first.
Have you any member your staff had any communication with the
President, the First Lady, any their representatives, including their
legal counsel, any member their White House staff, concerning
Whitewater the Madison Savings Loan? have had one substantive contact with White House staff, and want
tell you about it.
Let me, ifl may, just given th_at yes, would like know what the Fiske did not question Clinton about his conversations with Ickes, and never had the
opportunity question Clinton this issue.
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001585 Page 163
substance the communication was, when occurred, who initiated it,
and what you were asked do.
First all, initiated it.
About three weeks ago, Jean Hansen [sic], who Treasurys General
Counsel, and requested meeting with Mr. Nussbaum the White
House Counsel.
The purpose that meeting was describe the procedural reasons for the the procedural reasons for the then-impending then-impending -February 28th deadline far the then-statute limitations was
concerned. sure you know that that statute limitations has subsequently been
reinstated for certain types civil claims.
And explained the process which the RTC would follow reaching
decision before that February [sic] deadline; that would exactly
identical procedilres used any other case, any other PLS case, and
that the RTC fundamentally would come conclusion whether
not there existed the basis for claim, whether there did not. the event basis for claim existed, then would pursue either
tolling agreement which the equivalent voluntary extension the
statute limitations from the parties interest would file that
claim court.
That was the whole conversation. was asked one question That
question was whether intended provide the same briefing
attorneys for the parties interest. said, assume so. went back. Jean Hansen [sic] checked with the RTC General Counsel.
The answer was: due course. said, fine, that was it. have not had any contact with the President the United States the
First Lady any matter like this
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001585 Page 164
Altman, Senate Hearing, Feb. 24, 1994, 55-56. 318
Hanson testified that she noticed right away that Altman had not mentioned the
recusal discussion describing the February meeting. Indeed, had missed the entire
paragraph his prepared QA that included the sentence recusal. Gross, who was sitting
right behind Hanson, tapped Hanson the shoulder and said that Altman had left out recusal,
and Hanson responded that she knew. 319 According Hanson, she immediately considered
handing Altman note remind him the recusal discussion, but then Altman stated that,
That was the whole conversation, and she believed the opportunity had passed for correcting
his testimony.
Hanson also testified that she was not concerned about Altrnans failure
mention the February follow-up meeting, because she actually had been under the impression
that had mentioned it; she claims was not until she later reviewed the transcript that she
realized had failed include this information.
Eggleston, who attended the hearing for the White House, testified that was
immediately concerned that Altman had failed mention the recusal discussion that had taken
place the February 2.meeting. telephoned ~odesta from the hearing tell him that Altman
had failed mention recusal. (Podesta does not remember speaking with Eggleston while
318. The excerpts from Altmans February testimony are taken from the final printed
hearing transcript. The Semiannual Report the Resolution Trust Corporation Thrift Depositor
Protection Oversight Board--1994: Hearing before the Committee Banking, Housing, and
Urban Affairs, 103d Cong., Sess. (1994). That transcript reflects several minor typographical
corrections that were made the preliminary hearing transcript. None the changes appears material the investigation.
319. Gross stated that she does not recall this incident.
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001585 Page 165
Eggleston was the hearing. also does not remember the issue Alunans failing
mention the recusal discussion coming this soon.) Stern does remember receiving call from
Eggleston the hearing ended, which Eggleston reported that the recusal issue had not come during the hearing. 320
Altman testified fuat used the word substantive mean relating the
substance the case, the facts the case, the merits the case, the status the case, where the case going. Altman also testified that substantive meant about the
case, about the procedures applying the case. explained that did not consider
discussion regarding his possible recusal substantive discussion; never associated himself
with the substance the case since any event was facto recused and thus did not view
his recusal relating the procedures (and his terminology substance) the case. Altman
testified that when used the word substantive was not thinking other meetings that
would excluded using that word (other than the February meeting, obviously).
Altman testified that did not intentionally leave out the prepared sentence
recusal and that now wishes had read out loud. admits that his answer given
susceptible misinterpretation and that the distinction drew between .the substance the
case and his recusal was stupid retrospect given that few agreed with the distinction. Indeed,
when looking the transcript his testimony, Altman stated that knows people must think was trying hide the recusal discussion. Rule (e),
Federal Rules Criminal Procedure
320. had also been expected that Altman would asked more generally why had failed recuse himself from the Madison matter.
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001585 Page 166
FOIA(b)3 Rule 6(e), Federal Rules Criminal Procedure
Altman testified that when said, That was the whole conversation, meant
that was the whole conversation regarding the substance the case. also explained that
was referring what thought was the purpose the meeting, which was discuss the statute limitations procedures; the recusal discussion was the way type remark. claims made attempt conceal the recusal discussion. asked the grand jury, mean,
had had .intent, would have sat around the night before with all these people, with the line
recusal there? --1 mean, people ifld intended conceal it? ... and would have
gone over the White House and talked with our general counsel, taking with me, and four
White House staff members, intended conceal it? Altinan testified that did not have
any fear that disclosing the recusal discussion would create more controversy. (He also claims
that the preparation sessions nobody ever said that the recusal discussion was any way
explosive particularly embarrassing fact.)
Altman explained his statement that was asked only one question during the
February meeting relating the procedural discussion part the case, the substantive
portion the meeting. One question about the substance, thats what meant. According
Altman, that why did not disclose the questions admits being asked during the recusal
According Altman, did understand that Senator Gramms question required
him answer for himself and his staff whether e_i_ther had any contacts with the White House
regarding Madison. short while later, Senator DAmato again raised the issue contacts:
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001585 Page 167
Mr. Chairman, have say Mr. Altman that would like back question that Senator Gramm brought relates any meetings
with White House Staff counsel.
Mr. Altman, think you said that you and official from Treasury sought
out Mr. Nussbaum? that correct?
Yes, did.
Could you tell why? other words, have difficulty understanding
why you felt compelled seek out the White House counsel.
Solely ensure
Solely to?
Solely sure that understood the legal and procedural framework
within which the RTC was working. you recall, said, that time there was February 28, 1994 date
which was the subject major attention the Congress and the press. not uncommon meetings that type take place. And describe heads-up and very stiff conversation.
---Q. heads-up? what connection would that heads-up be? you mean
that the statute limitations was running?
No, that they should ~ware the internal processes and the types
criteria which the RTC was going be_following order reach
decision February 28, 1994.
Were any representatives the President Mrs. Clinton, any legal
counsel, which think would appropriate, speaking the counsel for
the TC, people handling this particular matter? mean, was there any
legal representation going on? Was this you just called them? Did they
have any representatives, any counsel who may have been meeting with
staff people, talking staff people? was accompanied our G~neral Counsel, Treasury General Counsel.
Mr. Nussbaum had his assistant with him. And Mr. Ickes and Margaret
Williams were both the
NW: 15416 Docld: 70001585 Page 168
Oh? Ickes it, huh?
Let ask you this. Prior this meeting, was there any representation,
was there any counsel, that was representing the Presidents interests
Mrs. Clintons interests, anyone else that you were aware of,