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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton's Late Tapes Infuriate His Rivals

WASHINGTON -- The White House on Monday struggled to contain a storm of partisan criticism over videotapes showing campaign contributors attending coffee meetings with U.S. President Bill Clinton at the White House.


But the fury showed little sign of abating, and the White House said additional tapes of Clinton at fund-raising events had been found and would be turned over to congressional investigators as warranted.


With Republicans accusing the White House of obstruction in delaying a turnover of the tapes in response to earlier requests from congressional investigators, Clinton said the belated discovery of the tapes appeared to be accidental.


"As soon as I found out about it late last week, I said, get this out and let's go on. And you can view the tapes and draw your own conclusions," Clinton told reporters in the Oval Office -- the symbolic seat of presidential power where one of the coffees took place.


Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson, a Tennessee Republican who was leading the Senate's investigation of fund-raising in the 1996 campaign, told a news conference he didn't expect to find anything surprising on the tapes but was angered it took so long to get them.


"There is no question this is a part of an effort to delay and obstruct our investigation," he said.


The videotapes were released by the White House to congressional investigators and the Justice Department on Saturday and to the media a day later.


The release also came just after Attorney General Janet Reno rejected calls for an independent prosecutor to investigate Clinton over the coffees and sleep-overs at the White House Lincoln bedroom.


The tapes showed scenes from 44 informal coffees Clinton held in the White House between Aug. 3, 1995 and Aug. 23, 1996.


In one of the controversial tapes, a guest could be heard offering "five checks" to Donald Fowler, then chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Fowler responded he could not take the checks just then but would call the guest later.


In another, a guest told Clinton, "James Riady sent me." Riady, whose family owns the Indonesian Lippo Group with business ties to China, has been a focus of investigations of foreign influence peddling.


Lanny Davis, Clinton's spokesman on the controversies surrounding 1996 fund raising, said the White House only learned of the videotapes late Wednesday, and immediately told congressional investigators.


The military-run White House Communications Agency that made the tapes had failed to find them in earlier computer archive searches, he said.