09/26/97 - 03:26 PM ET - Click reload often for latest version

Ickes reportedly told of Clinton calls from White House

WASHINGTON - A former top White House aide has told Senate investigators that President Clinton called several major Democratic donors from the White House in 1994 to solicit contributions.

Questioned in private by attorneys for the Governmental Affairs Committee, former White House deputy chief of staff Harold M. Ickes twice responded affirmatively when asked about Clinton's calls, said Senate officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to one official's account of the transcript, Ickes said, "I do know that he made telephone calls, a limited number in '94."

In a second reference Ickes said, "I remember his making some calls in '94 from the residence, a very small number."

Attorney General Janet Reno is weighing whether to call for a special prosecutor to investigate the president and Vice President Al Gore. Reno's review is focused mostly on whether fund-raising calls from the White House in 1996 violate a century-old prohibition on soliciting contributions from inside government buildings.

The Los Angeles Times first disclosed that Ickes told Senate investigators he was present when the president spoke by phone with several donors.

Administration officials said they were not going to dispute Ickes' account of the 1994 calls, the Times said. White House counsel Lanny Davis defended the calls as being "entirely legal, regardless of where they were made from in the White House and regardless of whether they were for federal campaign funds or for non-federal campaign" purposes.

Clinton has said he cannot recall soliciting donors by phone from the White House but would not deny the possibility.

By The Associated Press

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