Top White House officials, including Vice President Al Gore, asserted that the White House has built a "fire wall" to guard against further mistakes in the handling of the Whitewater issue.
Gore and White House senior adviser George Stephanopoulos on Sunday accused Republicans of exploiting the issues that involve investment by the Clintons in the Whitewater Development Corp., an Ozarks real-estate development firm, and its ties to an Arkansas savings and loan association that failed.
But Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, and others said President Clinton was "digging himself into a hole" because senior White House staff members were briefed on Whitewater issues by Treasury Department officials investigating the Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan failure and because White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum involved himself in the probes.
Gore, appearing on NBC's Meet the Press, said memos issued last week to the White House staff banning discussions with outside agencies on the Whitewater and Madison matters have built a "fire wall, preventing any kind of contact on this matter between people in the White House and people who are conducting the investigation. We will have the highest ethical standards in this White House."
Gore admitted the White House had made mistakes in allowing senior officials to be briefed by the Treasury Department on the status of the Resolution Trust Co. investigation into the failure of Madison.
Gore and Stephanopoulos said Sunday that Republicans were pushing the issue to harm Clinton's public standing.
"The Republicans can't run on the economy. They can't run on health care. They can't run on welfare, and they can't run on crime," Stephanopoulos told ABC's This Week With David Brinkley. "So they're going to try to exploit this issue."