The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 44.0°F | Overcast

Former White House Aide Defies Congressional Subpoena in Probe

By George Lardner Jr.
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

Former White House personnel security director Craig Livingstone snubbed a House committee's subpoena Monday, saying through his lawyer that he was tired of being "vilified and ridiculed."

Livingstone, who presided over the White House's improper acquisition of hundreds of confidential FBI reports, had been ordered to show up for a deposition by lawyers for the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. Instead his attorney, Randall J. Turk, delivered a letter dismissing the subpoena as "legally invalid."

A committee spokesman, Edmund M. Amorosi, charged that Livingstone's failure to appear, after agreeing to do so, was part of "a game plan" to stymie the FBI files investigation by delaying until Congress adjourns for the fall elections. "This is emblematic of the lack of cooperation we have received from the Clinton White House during all of our oversight efforts," he said.

The committee's authority to issue subpoenas for depositions ran out Aug. 31. Investigators for the panel had hoped to secure Livingstone's testimony voluntarily, but said they were never able to pin Turk down to a date until he agreed to produce his client on Monday.

Turk said he had agreed to that, but it dawned on him that what committee lawyers had initially described as "a brief mop-up interview" following a grueling hearing June 26 was developing into something far more ambitious, based on a dozen or so categories of fresh documents subpoenaed from the White House, the Justice Department, the CIA and Livingstone. "It looked to me like they were setting him up," Turk told a reporter.

In his letter to the committee's chief investigative counsel, Barbara Olson, Turk protested that Livingstone had already given more than 30 hours of sworn testimony and in the process had been "both vilified and ridiculed by your committee and in the national press, and has lost his job at the White House and is out of work. There comes a time, even in Washington, D.C., in an election year, when fairness and basic human decency must take precedence over partisan politics."

Turk indicated Livingstone would be willing to respond to written questions. Amorosi said committee Chairman William F. Clinger Jr., R-Pa., would "take the necessary steps to question Mr. Livingstone about documents which the committee recently received relevant to the FBI files matter."