The Death Of Vincent Foster

Congressman Burton speaks out about CBS

  Congressman Burton's comments on the 60 MINUTES' REPORT on the death of
                                VINCE FOSTER
   (House of Representatives - October 26, 1995)
   The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of May
   12, 1995, the gentleman from Indiana, Mr.Burton, is recognized for 15
   minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
   Mr. BURTON of Indiana . "Mr. Speaker, I have been watching the
   television show on CBS, `60 Minutes,' for a long, long time, and I
   have always respected that program because it was very informative,
   and I always thought it was factual. And then, just after the last
   presidential election, I think Mr. Hewlett, the producer of `60
   Minutes,' said in a national interview that had he exposed all of the
   information that was available to him at `60 Minutes' during the
   campaign, that the then candidate for President, who was later
   elected, would be walking around in the snows of New Hampshire. So it
   became apparent to me that the `60 Minutes' producers and the people
   who ran that show had a very strong bias, and that bias was reflected
   in much of their reporting.
   This became apparent to me again about 2 weeks ago on a Saturday
   night, when I watched Mike Wallace start doing a 20 minute segment on
   the death of Vince Foster. I have never seen so much misinformation
   and so much bias in reporting as I saw during that 20 minute segment.
   Let me just tell you some of the things that happened, some of the
   things that `60 Minutes' ignored. Mike Wallace said that every
   government body that has investigated the death of Vince Foster
   reached the same conclusion, than he killed himself at Fort Marcy
   He did not mention that the independent counsel, Kenneth Starr, has
   reopened the investigation. Mr. Starr's attorney spent this summer
   questioning witnesses before a grand jury. The FBI is back in Fort
   Marcy Park, or was a couple of weeks ago, more than 2 years after
   Vince Foster's death, looking for the bullet that killed him. Would
   the independent counsel go through all of this work were there not
   unanswered questions about the case?
   So I believe that Mr. Wallace was incorrect when he said that the
   conclusion has been reached by every government agency. In addition,
   many of us in Congress have come to different conclusions as well.
   Another thing that he forgot to mention was that the police were not
   the first people to encounter Foster's body. He mentioned a national
   park policeman who found the body. The fact of the matter is that the
   park policeman did not find the body. The body was found by a
   confidential witness (CW), who was the first person on the scene.
   I have a sworn statement, where I went out to his home with a court
   reported and two other Congressmen, from the confidential witness. The
   FBI questioned him extensively and considers him honest and credible.
   `60 Minutes' never talked about him or even mentioned on that program
   that there was a confidential witness that found the body. `60
   Minutes' never read his statement.
   The gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Clinger, who is the chairman of
   the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight in the House, told
   `60 Minutes' that he knows more about this subject than any Member of
   Congress, and, although I have high regard for Representative Clinger,
   he never interviewed the confidential witness, although he had an
   opportunity to do so, and he never read his sworn deposition, which
   was verified.
   Mike Wallace went into great detail during this interview about how
   the gun was found in Foster's right hand. He said critics of the
   investigation incorrectly stated that Foster was left-handed. Well,
   that misses the point entirely. When the confidential witness
   discovered the body, he looked very carefully. He was within 18 inches
   of Mr. Foster's face. He looked very carefully and saw no gun in
   either hand . He was very clear in his statement, in the sworn
   statement before me and the FBI, that when he found Foster, both hands
   were palm up with the thumbs pointed out away from the body. When the
   police arrived on the scene, they found his right hand palm down with
   the thumb pointed in, the gun on the trigger finger, and the gun was
   partially obscured by his hand and his leg.
   When the confidential witness found the body, the head was looking
   straight up, and there were no bloodstains on his cheek. When the
   police arrived, the head was still pointing up, but there was a
   contact bloodstain on the cheek and the trails of blood running from
   his mouth and nostrils down the side of his face.
   Now, how did Foster's hand get moved and why was there no gun in it
   when the man found it, and later there was a gun in it? How did
   Foster's head get moved? It is obvious to me that somebody was there
   and moved the body.
   Now, the Park Police officer, Officer Fornshill, was not, as I said
   before, the first to discover the body. It was a confidential witness.
   Park Police Officer Kevin Fornshill told Mike Wallace that Foster's
   body could not have been moved to the park because the vegetation
   around him was not trampled.
   But the fact of the matter is the confidential witness said in a sworn
   statement that the vegetation below the body, from the feet all the
   way down to a path that went all the way around the park, it was
   trampled flat. There was a narrow path at the bottom of the berm that
   winds around the perimeter of the park. `60 Minutes' would have known
   this if they had read his statement, or even decided to look into it
   and asked.
   The confidential witness told the FBI that he saw a half-empty wine
   cooler body near Foster's body. The Park Police did not find it. What
   happened to the wine cooler bottle and were there any fingerprints on
   it? As the confidential witness was leaving the park, he looked inside
   the white Nissan parked in the lot and saw a half-full package of wine
   cooler bottles, very similar to the one beside the body, a briefcase,
   and a suit jacket that looked similar to Foster's suit pants. This was
   not Foster's car. Foster's car was a gray Honda and it was parked
   further away, and C.W., the confidential witness, did not walk near
   Mike Wallace made a big issue out of the amount of blood around the
   body. He interviewed the medical examiner, who said there was
   sufficient blood underneath the head and shoulders to conclude that he
   died at that spot.
   This misses the key point. There would have been blood underneath
   Foster's head, whether he shot himself at the spot or was moved there.
   The key point is there was no blood spattered on anything behind where
   Foster was sitting. Anytime someone shoots himself through the mouth,
   there would be blood splattered all over above him, and there was
   nothing above him that had any blood on it whatsoever. The vegetation
   on the path behind Foster was clean.
   The first emergency medical services person who arrived at the park,
   George Gonzalez, commented that it was very unusual for a suicide
   victim's body to be laid out so neatly, with the feet together and the
   hands neatly at his side. He told this to the staff of the Committee
   on Government Operations, and he said: `I find it odd to have the body
   laid out like it was. I wouldn't expect the hand or body in the
   position found, the hands perfectly at the side.' `60 Minutes,'
   incidentally, did not interview Mr. Gonzalez.
   Mike Wallace noted that it was not unusual for Foster's clothes to
   have carpet fibers on them. Foster's attorney said that Mrs. Foster
   had just had new carpeting installed in their home. Well, if that is
   the case, why did the FBI not take carpet samples and match them with
   the fibers on his clothes? They did not do that.
   There were blond hairs on Mr. Foster's body and all over his clothes.
   Why did the FBI not compare these hairs to the hair of the people
   Foster knew and was close to?
   Here are some other keys points that `60 Minutes' left out in their
   biased reporting.
   First, the Park Police investigation was incomplete and
   unprofessional. The photos of the crime scene were underexposed and
   did not turn out. The only photos were of very poor quality, and they
   were made with instamatic cameras.
   No search was conducted for any skull fragments. When you blow the top
   of your head out with a .38 caliber bullet, there are skull fragments
   and bone fragments all about where the head was. There was none of
   this, no blood and no brain particles.
   No search was conducted for skull fragments, as I said. Only a very
   cursory search was conducted for the bullet. White House Counsel
   Bernie Nussbaum refused to allow Park Police officers or the FBI to
   search Foster's office. In fact, the night of Foster's death, Bernie
   Nussbaum, the chief counsel of the President, and two other high level
   White House aides, Patsy Thomason, who was the chief personnel
   officer, and Mrs. Williams, Hillary Clinton's chief of staff, searched
   Foster's office and removed files having to do with Whitewater. This
   was after the Park Police asked that the office be sealed, and it was
   not sealed for at least 12 hours while they went through and rifled
   through those papers. Justice Department officials accused Nussbaum of
   violating an agreement they had reached regarding the search of
   Foster's office.
   Second, the coroner that conducted the autopsy on Foster has made
   glaring errors in the past. This was not revealed by the `60 Minutes'
   show. Dr. James Beyer was the coroner who reviewed and did the autopsy
   on Vince Foster.
   Let me tell you about Mr. Beyer. In 1989 there was an autopsy on
   establishing the death of a man named Tim Easley. Mr. Beyer, the
   coroner, ruled that Easley killed himself by stabbing himself in the
   chest. He failed to notice a defensive wound on the man's hand. The
   case was reopened, and, after an outside expert reviewed the case,
   Easley's girlfriend confessed to murdering him, after he had been
   judged a suicide by the coroner. That is one mistake.
   In 1991, regarding a Mr. Tommy Burkett, Mr. Beyer did an autopsy on
   him and ruled that Burkett had killed himself with a gunshot wound to
   the mouth very similar to Vince Foster's. He said it was a suicide.
   Mr. Burkett's family had the body exhumed and reexamined by an outside
   expert. The second coroner reported that Dr. Beyer had failed to
   notice a disfigured and bloody ear, indicating a struggle, and a
   broken jaw, indicating he had been hit in the face and his jaw was
   broken during a struggle. The FBI is now investigating this case. It
   obviously was a murder or homicide, and not a suicide.
   The first special counsel, Robert Fiske, appointed a board of forensic
   experts to review the Vince Foster case. They concurred in Fiske's
   opinion that Foster killed himself at Fort Marcy Park. However, they
   were not appointed until a year after Foster died, and the only way
   that they could come to the conclusions they did was to read the
   coroner's report and use that as a guide to come to their conclusions.
   So they never saw the body, and they verified he was killed at the
   park. But the fact of the matter is, they could not possibly have
   known that, because they only used the coroner's report to come to the
   conclusions they did.
   So, in conclusion, last summer, when the Senate Committee on Banking
   and Financial Services held a hearing on Foster's death, the FBI
   testified there was absolutely no doubt that Foster killed himself,
   and that he killed himself at Fort Marcy Park.
   Now, let us review the problems and glaring inconsistencies with this
   First, the eyewitness who found the body testified that he is sure
   there was no gun in Foster's hand and the hands were in a different
   position than when the police arrived. That was not mentioned on `60
   Second, the confidential witness said there were no bloodstains on the
   face when he found the body. There were bloodstains on the cheek when
   the police arrived, indicating it had been moved. When they moved his
   body, his head went over to the side and blood drained out on the
   Third, the confidential witness testified he saw a wine cooler bottle
   close to Foster's body in the park, and a package of similar wine
   cooler bottles in a car in the parking lot that did not belong to
   Foster. Where did they come from? Where did that bottle go?
   Fourth, despite extensive searchers of the park, the FBI has been
   unable to find the bullet that killed Vince Foster, and they are still
   looking for it. Evidently the independent counsel sent them back out
   there 2 or 3 weeks ago to look for it again.
   Fifth, no skull fragments were ever found at the site where Foster's
   body was found, even though there definitely would have been skull
   fragments from that kind of a wound.
   Sixth, there were no fingerprints on the gun. Get this: The gun was in
   his hand, and there were no fingerprints on the gun. The FBI said they
   probably, get this, `melted off in the heat.' And yet when they took
   the gun apart, they found fingerprints there from the time the gun was
   made at the factory.
   Seventh, there were no fingerprints on the suicide note (please see
   this link for evidence note was forged.) found in Foster's briefcase
   in his White House office. It was torn up into 28 pieces, and the
   first few times the briefcase was searched, they could not find the
   note at all, even though they turned it upside down, and there were no
   fingerprints on it.
   Eighth, the coroner who conducted the autopsy of Foster's body has
   made glaring errors of high profile cases in the past. In one case, a
   body had to be exhumed and reexamined in order to change the ruling
   from suicide to murder.
   Ninth, security guards working at the Saudi Arabian Ambassador's
   residence across the street from the park, within 100 yards, 300 feet,
   with guards outside all day and night, heard no gunshot.
   Tenth, Foster's shoes were completely clean, with no grass or dirt
   stains, even though he was supposed to have walked 700 yards through
   the park to the second cannon.
   No. 11, the FBI never made any attempt to identify the carpet fibers
   or the blond hair on Foster's clothing.
   No. 12, the police photos at the death scene did not turn out, leaving
   a serious lack of documentation of the death scene.
   With all of the glaring problems, can you imagine the FBI telling the
   Senate Banking Committee there could be no doubt about where and how
   Foster died? With all of these glaring problems, can you imagine what
   Johnny Cochran, F. Lee Bailey, and O.J. Simpson's other lawyers would
   have done in a case like this?
   Independent Counsel Starr is still investigating this death. `60
   Minutes' should not jump to conclusions until Mr. Starr has completed
   his investigation, and Members of Congress should not jump to
   conclusions until Mr. Starr completes his investigation as well.
   So I just would like to say to my friends at `60 Minutes,' Mr.
   Wallace, Mr. Hewlitt, and everybody else, before you make the kind of
   determination that you did and do the kind of reporting that you did 2
   weeks ago, please talk to all the people involved, especially
   eyewitnesses. The man who found the body, who gave a sworn statement
   under oath to me and to two other Congressmen, was never contacted,
   never interviewed, and nobody has seen that report, even Mr. Clinger,
   who is the chairman of the Committee on Government Reform and
   Oversight here in the House.
   So I just say that I think it was a bad piece of reporting, and I
   would urge them to be more thorough in the future.

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