Opening Up the Clinton Archives
By Peter Baker
After months of controversy, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library plans to make public tomorrow more than 11,000 pages of records from Hillary Rodham Clinton's time in the White House, in this case her daily schedule for eight years as first lady. No word on whether they marked down all those 3 a.m. crisis phone calls, but they could give the clearest picture yet of her role in her husband's administration.
The documents are being released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed nearly a year ago by Judicial Watch, the watchdog group that spent much of the Clinton years probing various scandals. The Clinton library, part of the National Archives and Records Administration, notified the U.S. District Court this month that it had finally completed a line-by-line review of all the daily schedules it had found and would release them before a status hearing scheduled for Thursday.
"It is about time," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. "We're pleased, thanks to Judicial Watch's lawsuit, that the American people will be able to review Hillary's daily schedule records. The Clintons slow-pedaled this process but were unsuccessful in delaying the document release any further."
But the library is still reviewing another 20,000 pages of material that may be responsive to Judicial Watch's request, including telephone logs, and told the group that those may take one or two years to process. Fitton said it "would be an injustice" to not put out the telephone logs until after this year's presidential election and noted that his group went back to court yesterday seeking a judge to intervene further.
The 11,046 pages to be released tomorrow include schedules of meetings, trips, speaking engagements and social activities for 2,888 days in the White House, nearly the entire time Hillary Clinton was first lady. The library said it initially found no schedules for 32 days in the files of Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton's scheduling director in the White House (and later her campaign manager until she departed last month following a series of primary losses). Subsequent searches found schedules for 27 of those missing days in other files, officials said. No schedules have been found for the remaining five. Additionally, the library said it withheld schedules for the first 19 days of January 1993 prior to Bill Clinton's inauguration as president since she was not yet first lady.
Under law, the records were subject to review by former president Bill Clinton's personal representative, Bruce R. Lindsey, his longtime lawyer, White House deputy counsel and now chief executive officer of the William J. Clinton Foundation. Lindsey personally went through every line of every document to determine whether they should be released according to criteria set out in federal law. In the end, some information was redacted on 4,746 of the pages, but officials said it was mainly personal information such as telephone numbers, Social Security numbers and home addresses of visitors, not whole pages. Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the National Archives, said neither the foundation nor Hillary Clinton's campaign determined the timing of the release. "We're releasing them tomorrow because they're ready tomorrow," she said. "It was as soon as we could get them out."
Judicial Watch has a separate lawsuit pending against the archives seeking records related to the health care task force that Hillary Clinton led during her husband's first term. Hillary Clinton so far has not released her most recent tax returns but promised to do so before the April 22 primary in Pennsylvania.
Web Politics Editor
March 18, 2008; 5:32 PM ET
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