In a 474-page report, independent counsel David M. Barrett conceded that he was "not able to say with certainty whether any criminal laws were broken" by government officials in his inquiry of possible tax violations by Cisneros. But he alleged that officials in the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service "resisted our efforts to investigate" the possibilities.
The report itself does not appear to include clear evidence of obstruction, however. Many officials named in the investigation angrily denied Barrett's accusations in written rebuttals attached to the document.
"Mr. Barrett conjured up a far-fetched theory of a wide-reaching government conspiracy to justify prolonging his tenure for another six years," wrote Susan J. Park, a trial lawyer in the Justice Department's public integrity section. "He has nothing to show for his efforts. If Mr. Barrett is serious about exploring the issue of integrity, he should examine his own."
Cisneros has remained silent since his guilty plea, but Barry S. Simon, one of his attorneys, criticized Barrett's investigation in a letter to the federal court that had jurisdiction over it.
"The materials that are now being publicly released are simply an effort to 'try' the case that [Barrett's office] could not win in court in an adversarial process," Simon wrote.
Lawmakers battled in recent years over whether to shut down Barrett's inquiry amid suspicions among some Republicans that Democrats were attempting to suppress embarrassing revelations about the Clinton administration. A three-judge panel advocated removing from the public report accusations related to Clinton administration officials but was overruled by congressional Republicans.
Despite these earlier controversies, yesterday's final report was greeted with virtual silence on Capitol Hill. The document, which was released with limited redactions, included no findings related to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) or former president Clinton, as had been widely rumored in political circles.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), who has sharply criticized Barrett's office, said yesterday that he thinks Barrett was "delusional" in making the coverup allegations, and Waxman questioned the overall value of the investigation.
"He spent $21 million over a 10-year period, and half of it has been spent since Cisneros pled guilty to a misdemeanor," Waxman said. "This is an astounding sum of money, and I'm not sure what we got for it. . . . The taxpayers have been abused."
UPDATE: Jamie Castillo on what might have been.Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 21, 2006 to Scandalized! | TrackBack