July 26, 1996 Editorial
The Wall Street Journal Interactive
July 26, 1996 Review & Outlook Editorial
Documents coming out of Rep. Bill
McCollum's hearings on the Clinton Administration's relations
with union president Arthur Coia establish that in 1994 the FBI
wrote the White House Counsel's Office that Mr. Coia "is
a criminal associate of the New England Patriarca organized crime
family" and that he had been the subject of an FBI criminal
Abner Mikva, whose turn it was to
be White House Counsel at the time, testified yesterday he never
saw the letter. During a break in the hearings, he told reporters
that the report was read by "probably a clerk in the office,
maybe an intern." He also said such information shouldn't
be loosely bandied around the White House because of privacy considerations.
We wonder if Security Chief Craig Livingstone got the word?
In another memo released yesterday,
Paul Coffey, chief of the organized crime and racketeering section
at Justice, wrote another prosecutor that Justice planned to file
a civil suit against Mr. Coia's union, the Laborers International
Union of North America, and noted that Hillary Clinton was scheduled
to address the union's conference in Florida. "It is our
understanding that Mrs. Clinton's staff has already been alerted
by the Labor Department," he continued, that the suit would allege that the
union has been dominated by organized crime "for at least
two decades." In dealing with Mr. Coia the First Lady should
understand, Mr. Coffey continued, "we plan to portray him
as a mob puppet."
Mrs. Clinton did speak to the conference
a year later, and Rep. McCollum counts 127 different contacts
between Mr. Coia and President Clinton. We have already described
on Wednesday ("Who Is Arthur Coia?"), the settlement
Justice finally reached with LIUNA. Mr. Coia stayed, on the promise
that he'd clean up the union himself. He had previously described
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes as his intermediary
at the White House. And the appeal officer in the Justice Department's
supervision of the cleanup just happens to be Neil Eggleston,
the former associate counsel who did the big memo on the Clinton
couple's criminal exposures in the Whitewater deal.
Was this a "sweetheart"
deal, Rep. Charles Schumer asked. "No," replied Jim
Moody, a former Justice Department official, though it was "different."
John Keeney, acting head of the criminal division, said the agreement
was unusual because no other allegedly corrupt union had ever
asked for "such an opportunity" or agreed to cleanup
Meanwhile, LIUNA itself took out ads
in the Washington Post denouncing Rep. McCollum's inquiries as
"tabloid theatrics" (the most prominent mention of the
hearings in the Post through Thursday, by the way). The AFL-CIO's
Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka wrapped himself around LIUNA:
"They're trying to silence us and they will not succeed."
Back at the Department of Justice itself, assistant press spokesman
Jim Sweeney ruled the inquiry "clearly a political charade."
What, the House of Representatives
has the temerity to ask questions about the Justice Department?
The very same Clinton Justice Department where a U.S. attorney
resigned over the Webster Hubbell's intervention in a corruption
trial (our first "Who Is Webster Hubbell?" March 2,
1993). The same Justice Department that was overruled by the judicial
panel when it opposed an expansion of the inquiry by Independent
Counsel Donald Smaltz. The same Justice Department that lost its
prosecution of Billy Dale after Travelgate. Why, how could anyone
suspect political interference in a department like that?
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