Security of FBI Background Files, August 1, 1996, Hearing, before the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, Second Session, August 1, 1996   [open pdf - 11MB]

From the opening statement of William F. Clinger, Jr.: "Back in the wake of the May 1993 Travel Office firings and the White House's struggle to explain why it had called in the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] to investigate the employees, the White House called the FBI Communications Director to the White House for a press strategy meeting. Mr. Collingwood amended the FBI statement and the White House promptly reported the FBI was initiating a criminal investigation. The White House and the FBI were properly chastised by Congress, the press and subsequent reviews of this matter for this abuse of the FBI. Justice Department spokesman Carl Stern in a memo written in May 1993 observed, 'once Collingwood arrived at the White House and found the President's lawyers, (three of them!) attending the communications huddle, shouldn't he have backed out and called for reinforcements?' Even at that time, the administration's Justice Department spokesman recognized the FBI needed reinforcements to resist politicization by this White House. Upon taking the reins at the FBI, Director Freeh observed, quote, I want to cite the lessons that must be learned from an event that occurred shortly before I became FBI Director. It concerned a White House official calling directly to the FBI with instructions to investigate alleged wrongdoing by employees in the White House Travel Office. It was an unfortunate incident and an example of matters that we will avoid at all costs." Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Howard M. Shapiro, Vernon R. Thornton, Thomas Kelley, Peggy Larson, Dan Burton, William F. Clinger Jr., and Henry A. Waxman.

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