The White House now says it may take ``a couple of weeks'' for President Clinton to give the Justice Department personal records about his past business ventures in Arkansas.
Responding to a budding outcry for disclosure, Clinton said on Dec. 23 that he and his wife were giving the Justice Department all their records related to their half ownership in the failed Whitewater Development Corporation.
The Whitewater real-estate venture has been linked to the failed Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan Association that is the subject of a federal investigation into whether any S&L funds were diverted improperly to Whitewater or Clinton's gubernatorial campaigns.
That investigation was already under way during last year's presidential campaign, although existence of the inquiry was not made public at the time.
Senior White House adviser George Stephanopoulos said Sunday that the Clinton records, removed from the White House office of lawyer Vincent Foster after he committed suicide, had already been given to the Justice Department.
But White House spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers said Monday that the Justice Department will not get the files until the documents are ``cataloged'' with the help of the White House counsel's office. ``There's actually quite a bit of documents,'' she said. ``This includes campaign files, personal files. They are in the process of being cataloged and will be turned over in the next couple of weeks.''
Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, ranking Republican on the House Banking Committee, said Monday he was ``astonished that all records they have in their possession haven't been turned over.''
Mr. Leach, who is among those calling for a special counsel to handle the Whitewater investigation, has expressed concerns about delays and noted that there is an early March deadline for the government to file civil suits seeking recovery of the S&L funds in question.
Senior White House adviser Bruce Lindsey attributed part of the delay to the Clintons' personal attorney, David Kendall, being on vacation.