Group Wants Clinton Phone Logs Released

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton's early job as health care policymaker gave way during the remainder of her years as first lady to a more traditional, restricted role, according to thousands of pages of calendars outlining her activities in the White House.

While her influence clearly waned after the collapse of a national health care initiative, Clinton became part of the public face of her husband's administration, on issues from foreign policy to domestic legislation.

Among the documents released Wednesday by the National Archives: stage directions during the 1996 presidential campaign for a bill signing ceremony on legislation to protect workers' health insurance. "HRC will not have a role but will be seated in the front row," the schedule states.

The calendars reflect her extensive itineraries abroad, a record she has used in the presidential campaign to demonstrate readiness for office.

But while Clinton engaged in substantive meetings with foreign leaders over the eight years, the overseas events are heavy with more traditional appearances by a first lady.

The schedules show her meeting other political wives, having lunch with prominent women, touring cathedrals and hospitals and engaging in various ceremonial duties in trips to Japan, Russia and other countries.

The schedules showing Clinton's engagement on a wide range of matters are an outline and don't reflect phone calls or impromptu strategy sessions, says her presidential campaign.

Those phone calls were at issue Thursday in federal court in Washington. A conservative group that won release of the calendars was pushing for release of 20,000 pages of the former first lady's phone logs.

The National Archives estimates it will take at least one to two years before it can begin processing the phone logs and offers no estimate on a release date. The archives is asking a federal judge for a halt to the processing of any additional records in the case, citing limited resources and other requests it says must be processed in a fair and orderly manner.

"Under the law, these phone records should have been released two years ago," said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, the group that succeeded in getting the calendars released. "Voters shouldn't have to wait two more years for these records of a presidential candidate."

Clinton was an early champion of the North American Free Trade Agreement that she now criticizes. The schedules show her holding at least five meetings in 1993 aimed at helping to win congressional approval of the deal.

She also pushed NAFTA on multiple occasions, including one in November 1993 at a closed meeting with 120 expected participants. As a presidential candidate, she blames the pact for costing jobs and promises to renegotiate it.

The calendars raise at least as many questions as they answer about her statements in the campaign promoting her foreign policy experience.

For example, the calendars show that on problems in the Balkans, she met for 30 minutes in Washington on April 21, 1999, with the Macedonian ambassador to the United States, followed by her May 14, 1999, trip to the Balkans. What is unclear is whether that experience justifies her statement on the campaign trail that "I negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo."

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