WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, defended the decision she and her husband made to seek taxpayer reimbursement of their Whitewater legal bills.
The New York Democrat said she approved the move, based in part on the "precedents that other presidents have followed."
"Whatever was asked for was related to Whitewater only," she said.
As part of the 2001 agreement ending Independent Counsel Robert Ray's investigation of President Clinton, Clinton agreed on the last day of his presidency not to seek reimbursement for legal fees stemming from the probe of his involvement with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Sen. Clinton referred questions on the specific amount being sought to lawyer David Kendall. He could not be reached immediately for comment.
Despite lucrative book advances and speaking fees, the Clintons still face legal bills totaling between $1.75 million and $6.5 million, according to Hillary Clinton's Senate financial disclosure. They paid $1.3 million in legal bills last year, the filing reported.
After leaving the White House, the former president traveled the globe last year and earned $9.2 million in lecture fees. Sen. Clinton received a $2.85 million advance on her $8 million memoir deal.
The independent counsel law specifies payment of legal fees for the subject of an investigation that produces no indictment. The Clintons were never charged in connection with the investigation into their failed Whitewater land deal.
Presidents Reagan and Bush were reimbursed for bills related to the Iran-Contra probe, which occurred when the current president's father was Reagan's vice president. Reagan was awarded $562,111, Bush $272,352.
The Clintons left the White House with $11.3 million in legal fees. A legal defense trust they established has paid off about $7 million.
Kendall's firm is owed $1 million to $5 million by the Clintons, according to Senate disclosure forms.