WASHINGTON (AP) _ A former Whitewater prosecutor who forced the Clinton White House to reveal information is the trial judge in a new battle over White House disclosure.
U.S. District Judge John Bates will handle the lawsuit over Vice President Dick Cheney's task force meetings with energy industry executives and lobbyists.
A political independent who gave $1,000 to Bush's presidential campaign in 1999, Bates was one of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's deputies. Bates argued successfully to a federal appeals court in 1997 that notes of White House lawyers' conversations with Hillary Rodham Clinton must be turned over to a federal grand jury in the Whitewater investigation.
In a 2-1 ruling, the appeals court overruled Mrs. Clinton's claim that the conversations were protected by attorney-client privilege.
Mrs. Clinton could be indicted in the Whitewater investigation, Bates told the appeals court in 1997 as he underscored the gravity of the issue and the prosecutors' desire to gain as many facts as possible. Starr's office decided not to prosecute the first lady.
The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, sued Cheney on Friday seeking disclosure of which energy company officials met with the White House energy policy task force Cheney chaired. Bates was chosen by computer from more than a dozen judges to hear the case.
Joining Starr's Whitewater investigation in 1995, Bates eventually ran the Washington side of the investigation. He had spent most of his career handling civil litigation at the U.S. attorney's office in Washington.
Cheney's office said last month that Enron Corp. representatives met six times with Cheney or his aides concerning energy policy. However, both the vice president and Bush have refused to be more specific about who attended meetings of the task force and what subjects were discussed, saying the disclosure would restrict the president's ability to get candid advice from outside the government.