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GOP: White House lawyers hinder probe

Face-to-face with the White House attorneys they have criticized, Senate Republicans on Wednesday accused the lawyers of trying to impede a campaign fund-raising investigation by withholding key documents and videotapes.

Even now, the Republicans said, they are discovering more examples of materials not provided to investigators _ including videotapes of 60 presidential appearances at fund-raising events and logs of President Clinton's minute-by-minute movements.

White House counsel Charles Ruff and two of his subordinates answered back. "I do not believe it's fair to suggest we withheld some treasure trove of information," Ruff said, arguing that the White House has done everything possible to assist the committee.

The confrontation has been building for months, accelerating as the Governmental Affairs Committee approaches its Dec. 31 deadline for ending the investigation.

The 60 new videotapes include Clinton's appearances before the House and Senate Democratic campaign organizations and events of the Clinton/Gore '96 Committee _ the president's re-election organization.

White House special counsel Lanny Davis said the committee had not asked for tapes of presidential fund-raising events that were unconnected to the Democratic National Committee.

"We will by happy to show them (the non-DNC tapes) to the committee," Davis said. "We gave them what we thought they wanted."

Earlier Wednesday, an investment banker testified about donating $50,000 to the Democratic Party after getting a call from President Clinton.

Richard Jenrette recalled that during their 11-minute conversation on Oct. 18, 1994, Clinton told him he wanted to raise $2-million from 40 people in the New York financial community.

Jenrette, chairman of Equitable Cos., said he didn't give the president a commitment but decided on his own to give about $50,000. Jenrette said he also gave $25,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 1996 after receiving a brief call from Vice President Al Gore.

Asked by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, if he felt pressure to make donations after receiving the calls, Jenrette said: "If I disagreed with what they were doing, I wouldn't do it."