FBI agents are trying to determine whether the explanations of several Bush staffers hold up, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.
The case began when former Rep. Tom Downey, who was helping Democrat Al Gore prepare for debates with GOP opponent Bush, received a package Sept. 13 containing documents and a videotape that appeared to show Bush's debate preparations. Downey turned the material over to the FBI, which has since begun a criminal investigation.
The material was mailed Sept. 11 from Austin, Texas, where Bush's campaign is headquartered. The FBI obtained a videotape from a surveillance camera at the post office where the package was mailed.
The tape showed Yvette Lozano, a low level employee of Bush's media firm, Maverick Media, mailing a package at a time that corresponded to when the debate package was mailed, law enforcement officials have said.
Lozano has said she was mailing a pair of khaki pants to The Gap for her boss, Mark McKinnon, who supported her story by producing a pair of replacement khakis. Lozano said the FBI took her fingerprints and her computer.
At The Gap, spokesman Jack Dougherty said the company was subpoenaed Sept. 26 to turn over all records of McKinnon's transaction. Dougherty said the company complied with the subpoena on Sept. 29 but would not say what records were turned over.
However, The Wall Street Journal reported that The Gap did not receive the khakis until a week after the Sept. 11 date on which Lozano said they were mailed.
FBI agents expanded their inquiry more than a week ago to see if someone directed or assisted Lozano, law enforcement officials said.
McKinnon said FBI agents asked him whether the mailing was part of a Bush campaign trick to sabotage or delay the presidential debates.
A Bush official said, on condition of anonymity, that the campaign had received subpoenas from a federal grand jury. All the material covered by the subpoenas was information already given or offered by the campaign, the official said.
Investigators are seeking routine records, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.
Like all subpoenas, these come from a grand jury, but there is no grand jury sitting specifically on this case, federal law enforcement officials said. Prosecutors simply use an existing grand jury in Washington to issue subpoenas when corporations, worried about pledges of confidentiality to clients, request them before turning over records.
Investigators, meanwhile, are still searching for a motive ithe case and as a result have been unable to settle on any of five possible statutes that might have been violated, a senior law enforcement official said.
The statutes are: interstate transportation of stolen property, theft from a federally funded activity, mail fraud, lying to an FBI agent and a Watergate-era law prohibiting someone working for one campaign from posing as a member of another campaign.
The FBI also has interviewed some Democrats, including Downey and Michael Doyne, a Gore staffer in Tennessee who was suspended by the campaign for claiming to know of a mole in Bush's camp.