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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

White House Backs Stephanopoulos

SAN DIEGO -- The White House is rallying behind President Bill Clinton's embattled senior adviser George Stephanopoulos amid allegations that he inquired about removing a prominent Republican hired to investigate the Whitewater case.

Clinton's failure so far to publicly stand up for his aide has fed media speculation the president might be distancing himself from the feisty adviser whose strategy of counterattack and damage control helped Clinton's election.

In a brush with reporters Saturday in Dallas, Clinton answered questions on health care and his brother Roger's wedding plans but bolted when asked about Stephanopoulos.

But aboard Air Force One on a flight from Dallas to San Diego, White House spokesman Jeff Eller walked into the press cabin specifically to reject news reports that Stephanopoulos might be in trouble.

"The entire White House staff stands behind George Stephanopoulos fully and completely, and that includes the president, the chief of staff (Thomas "Mack" McLarty), the first lady (Hillary Rodham Clinton), and all the members of the White House staff," he said.

Eller said that just because Clinton had made no comment on it "doesn't mean he does not support George -- because he does, absolutely."

Both McLarty and the Whitewater special prosecutor Robert Fiske are conducting separate probes into a Feb. 25 phone call between Stephanopoulos and his close friend Joshua Steiner, the chief of staff of the Treasury Department.

During the conversation Stephan-opoulos, 33, complained about a decision by the Resolution Trust Corporation, an independent federal agency, to hire Republican Jay Stephens, a former U.S. attorney for Washington D.C., to look into the bankruptcy of failed Arkansas savings and loan institution Madison Guaranty.

This was on the same day members of Congress railed about contacts between Treasury officials and the White House related to the Whitewater affair.