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Hillary Cleared In Filegate

Independent Counsel Robert Ray said Thursday he found no credible evidence that first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton or senior White House officials were involved in seeking the FBI background files of Republicans.

Ray also said there is no credible evidence that former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum lied to Congress about the hiring of the White House security chief whose office gathered the files.

Nussbaum was quoted in an FBI interview summary as saying that Mrs. Clinton had recommended hiring Craig Livingstone. Nussbaum told the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee on June 26, 1996 that the FBI's summary was incorrect.

"There was no substantial or credible evidence that Mrs. Clinton was involved in the hiring of Mr. Livingstone," Ray said in a two-page statement. "Accordingly, this office declined prosecution and has closed the Nussbaum matter" as well as its investigation into whether the files were misused.

Ray's office "determined that there was no substantial and credible evidence that any senior White House official, or first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, was involved in seeking confidential Federal Bureau of Investigation background reports of former White House staff from the prior administrations of President Bush and President Reagan."

Ray is sending a report on the FBI files investigation to three federal appeals judges, who will give the people named in it 90 days to respond before releasing the report along with any responses.

The report is to be followed by two others - one on Mrs. Clinton's role in the purge of the White House travel office and another on the Clintons' Whitewater land dealings in Arkansas. That third report also will deal with Mrs. Clinton's legal work for her Whitewater partners' failing savings and loan.

The White House has said the gathering of files was a bureaucratic blunder based on outdated Secret Service lists of White House entry passholders.

Ray has angered some Republicans whose files were gathered by the Clinton White House. Those Republicans wanted him to bring prosecutions for violations of their privacy. But Ray pointed out that his office does not have jurisdiction to investigate alleged violations of the Privacy Act of 1974.

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