Webster Hubbell, the associate attorney general for the first 15 months of the Clinton administration, faces the possibility of being sent to prison a second time. On January 26, the Court of Appeals reinstated a tax fraud case that Independent Counsel Ken Starr had brought against Hubbell. He was indicted last April on charges that he had evaded taxes on income of more than $850,000 from 1994 through 1997.
The case was dismissed last July by Judge James Robertson, a Clinton appointee, who ruled that Starr had exceeded his authority because the tax evasion charges were not related to his Whitewater investigation. Two Appeals Court judges, one appointed by Reagan and one by Carter, have now reversed Robertson. A third judge, appointed by Clinton, dissented. The majority opinion was that Hubbell?s tax evasion could well have been related to the Whitewater investigation because Hubbell may have not reported most of his income because it was hush money paid to buy his silence.
Hubbell was paid over $700,000 by 18 individuals and firms after he resigned from the Justice Department and before he went to prison. The biggest payment, $100,000, came from the Lippo Group after James Riady, the president of this Indonesian company, paid several visits to the White House in June 1994. The next largest payment came from a company with ties to Vernon Jordan. Jordan later used his influence with the same firm to get a job for Monica Lewinsky.
Nearly all the payments were described as consulting fees, but Hubbell did little or no work for the money. The donors were asked to help Hubbell by Clinton administration officials or friends such as Vernon Jordan. The judges that reinstated the indictment found that it was reasonable to assume that these payments may have been made to obstruct justice by insuring that Hubbell did not cooperate with Ken Starr in his Whitewater investigation. Last November, Starr indicted Hubbell on a charge of concealing from Federal regulators the role he and Hillary Clinton played in a fraudulent real estate venture in Arkansas.
Hubbell confirmed that his silence was bought in a recorded phone conversation with his wife when he was in prison. She told him the White House did not want him to go through with his plan to countersue his former law firm and that she might lose her job with the Interior Department if he did. Hubbell replied, “So I need to roll over one more time.”
The New York Times revealed in May 1997 that the Clintons both lied when they claimed they knew nothing about Hubbell?s legal troubles when he resigned. They lied to give the president plausible deniability if it was charged that he helped arrange for the payment of hush money to Hubbell. It should be big news when two federal judges say the payments appear to have been made to obstruct justice. That was reported by The New York Times and The Washington Post, but both stopped short of implicating Clinton. No one asked why Starr did not refer this to the House as a possible impeachable offense.