July 15, 2003 - Posted at: 5:34 p.m. CDT
WASHINGTON -- An appeals court ruled Tuesday that the federal government does not have to pay for the bulk of former President Bill Clinton's and his wife's legal fees arising out of the Whitewater investigation.
The Clintons sought reimbursement for more than $3.5 million in lawyer costs stemming from the long-running independent counsel probe of the failed Arkansas land deal.
But a federal appeals panel ruled the Clintons would have been investigated with or without appointment of an independent counsel. The federal government will pay for $85,000 in the Clintons' legal fees for their lawyers' review of the final report.
Clinton lawyer David Kendall responded that former President Ronald Reagan and his vice president, George Bush, were reimbursed for more than half of their legal costs from the Iran-Contra investigation. Kendall says the Clintons were reimbursed for only two percent of Whitewater costs.
Recent financial disclosure forms show the couple owes between $1.7 million and $6.5 million in legal bills.