WASHINGTON (Talon News) — A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that former President Bill Clinton and his wife Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) will have to pay their own legal fees that accumulated during the independent counsel investigation of the Whitewater land deal that occurred in Arkansas during the 1980s.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. ordered the Clintons to pay the vast majority of the $3.5 million debt they owe. They had asked for the entire amount to be paid in full by American taxpayers, but the court disagreed. The investigation into the Clintons’ involvement in the questionable land deal lasted over seven years and cost taxpayers $70 million.
The three judges did not believe the argument made by the Clintons’ lawyer that the couple would not have accumulated so many legal fees over such a long period of time if it were not for their position of power in government.
“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,” opined the judges.
Although the charges against the Clintons did not lead to an indictment of them personally, the 14-page ruling by the appeals court showed the independent counsel investigation into Whitewater and other issues was instrumental in leading to 24 other indictments, at least 16 convictions, and the impeachment of former President Clinton. The U.S. Senate did not convict Clinton on the charges of impeachment brought to them by the House of Representatives.
Clinton is not permitted to recoup any expenses related to the Monica Lewinsky investigation because of a previous settlement with the independent counselor.
David Kendall, the Clintons’ attorney, argued in a statement that his clients should be able to get a large portion of their legal debt retired because former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush were allowed to do so in expenses related to the Iran-Contra investigation.
“The facts and the numbers speak for themselves,” remarked Kendall. “The good news is that the partisan Whitewater smoke-and-mirrors investigation is finally over.”
Mrs. Clinton, the former first lady and current Senator from New York, recently revealed that she and her husband owe up to $6.5 million in legal fees as of the end 2002.
The appeals court did allow the Clintons to be paid $85,312.01 to pay for the review and response to the court’s final report, a unique expense to this particular case. The report said that repayment for independent counsel fees “should be difficult; that such fees will not be a common thing.”