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FBI serves subpoenas on 6 Clinton aides

The FBI served subpoenas on the White House and six of President Clinton's senior officials Friday night.

They are seeking testimony and documents related to a special prosecutor's investigation into a failed Arkansas thrift with ties to the Clintons.

The subpoenas ask for information on contacts between White House staff and Treasury Department officials related to the federal inquiry, the White House said. Revelations earlier this week about such contacts prompted questions about possible conflicts of interest that could compromise an independent investigation.

The multiple subpoenas underscored the extraordinary steps special counsel Robert Fiske was taking in the early stages of his investigation into the failure of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan Association.

As part of that inquiry, Fiske is trying to determine whether investors in a Arkansas real estate venture known as Whitewater _ including the Clintons _ benefited from questionable Madison transactions.

Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, in a statement, said "the White House will comply fully and promptly with the subpoena." She said that because the subpoenas concerned a pending investigation, the White House would have no further comment.

Subpoenas also were served on three officials at the Treasury Department who "intend to comply fully," said agency spokesman Howard Schloss.

Subpoenaed at the White House were Harold Ickes, deputy chief of staff; Bruce Lindsey, senior presidential adviser; Mark Gearan, the communications director; Bernard Nussbaum, White House counsel; Lisa Caputo, press secretary to Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Maggie Williams, Mrs. Clinton's chief of staff.

Nussbaum was said late Friday to be planning to resign in the wake of questions about the contacts between White House staff _ including himself _ and Treasury officials. Clinton passed up two opportunities to publicly defend Nussbaum and met with him late Friday in the Oval Office.

Aides said a resignation announcement could come today.

The flurry of legal activity at the White House came late on a day when Clinton had said he was determined to cooperate with investigators in hopes of putting questions about Whitewater to rest.

"I want this thing to be done fully, clearly and to be over with," he said at an afternoon news conference. "That is my only interest, and I intend to pursue it with great vigor."

A White House official sought to put the best face on the potential disruption of work among Clinton's key lieutenants. "We'll go forward. It's like anything else in the world: You've got to work it in. It's not going to overwhelm the White House."

At Treasury, subpoenas went to deputy Treasury secretary Roger Altman, general counsel Jean Hanson, and chief of staff Joshua Steiner.

The White House subpoena directed the administration to preserve documents and records related to Whitewater, and it instructed the six staff members that they would be expected to testify before a grand jury.

At the same time, White House Deputy Counsel Joel Klein issued a notice barring the destruction of White House computer records. In addition, he issued notices to halt the removal of all "burn bags" in the White House, stop the removal of all wastebasket trash containers and ordered the preservation of all computer records.

Clinton was notified of the subpoenas shortly before they were served at 7 p.m.

"His reaction was that the staff should take all necessary steps to comply," an administration official said.