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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton Aide Denies FBI File Impropriety

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- President Bill Clinton, dogged by questions about why his White House had obtained FBI files on prominent Republicans nearly three years ago, said Sunday that the whole thing was a "completely honest bureaucratic snafu."


White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta -- but not Clinton himself -- apologized for the episode, but Republicans continued to protest.


Tony Blankley, House Speaker Newt Gingrich's press secretary and one of those whose FBI files turned up at the White House, said, "The case is not closed."


Pointing to shifting accounts about how the White House handled the data from the FBI files, Blankley, appearing on CNN's "Inside Politics Weekend," said: "Investigators and the prosecutors have to go in and look and find out what the facts are. What we find is every day there's a new explanation; new information comes out."


In the addition to Blankley's file, the FBI reports involved include those on former Secretary of State James Baker III, former White House Chief of Staff Kenneth Duberstein and more than 300 others who had undergone security checks and held White House passes at one time.


The White House said the examination of the files had been halted after work covering names starting with the letters A through G. The search was said to have been conducted by an Army aide on temporary duty at the White House.


Speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One as Clinton flew from Washington to Las Vegas on Sunday, Panetta said: "I can assure the American people that that kind of mistake has not happened in the last two years and we have taken procedures and precautions to ensure that that will never happen again."


He said the Army clerk working on routine FBI background checks of potential Clinton appointees to top government jobs used an outdated roster that listed Republicans instead of Democrats. The White House, Panetta said, returned the files to the FBI.


"There was no improper use made of those files," Panetta said on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press" before leaving for Las Vegas. "As far as we can determine, nothing was done with that information. It was not passed on to any officials."


Acknowledging the mistake, he added: "I think an apology is owed to those that were involved."


On Saturday, Senator Bob Dole, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, charged that the compilation "reads like a Clinton enemies list."


"The White House has now been forced to admit that Bill Clinton's aides used their power, the FBI, to gain access to private files of some of Clinton's top political adversaries," he said at a political rally in Georgia with Gingrich.


"I believe that President Clinton owes an apology to the individuals involved and to all Americans for this sad invasion of privacy," Dole said.


Clinton, in Las Vegas for a political fund-raiser, endorsed Panetta's earlier public expression of regret.