Vincent Foster: Murder or Suicide?
Vincent Foster: Murder or Suicide?
An affair with the First Lady may have cost the White House deputy counsel his life.
One of the most troubling questions in the mystery surrounding White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster’s alleged suicide is why, in his final days, Foster behaved so unlike a man contemplating suicide. Foster gave no indication to those closest to him that he was so terribly distraught about his new life in Washington, D.C., that he wanted to kill himself. The very evening that he was found dead, he had enthusiastically set aside time to take his children on an outing. With the anticipated arrival of his sister and niece flying in from Arkansas on the following day, he had promised them that he would escort them personally around the nation’s capital, with a bonus of a special lunch at the White House.
Yet according to students of the mystery, there is no question that Vincent Foster was a troubled man and was uncomfortable working with the president as deputy counsel. Foster’s association with the President Bill Clinton was primarily through Hillary, with whom he had been partners at a law firm in Little Rock, Arkansas. For years, Clinton insiders were aware that Hillary and Foster had shared a romantic relationship in Arkansas and that they maintained the affair when the Clintons moved to the White House. Because of the tense situation between himself and the Clintons and because of his knowledge of the facts of the Whitewater scandal, conspiracy theorists maintain that Foster intended to resign on July 21, 1993.
On the morning of July 20 Foster attended the White House announcement of Louis Freeh’s appointment as the new director of the FBI. Foster had scheduled a private meeting with President Bill Clinton for the next day, a meeting at which many believe Foster intended to resign as White House Deputy Council.
At midday on July 20 Foster told his secretary, Deborah Gorham, that he would be “right back.” On the way out of his office he offered his co-worker Linda Tripp the remainder of the M&Ms from his lunch tray. That was the last time that Foster was seen alive.
The White House is equipped with the most sophisticated entry-control and video surveillance systems in the world, yet there is no video record of Foster leaving. Neither does there exist any logbook entry to show that he signed out of the building. Students of the circumstances surrounding Foster’s alleged suicide are convinced that he was somehow taken out of the building undetected and against his will.
Several hours after Foster told his secretary that he would return shortly, his body was found in Fort Marcy Park, in a Virginia suburb outside of Washington. He appeared to have committed suicide by placing the barrel of a .38 pistol in his mouth and pulling the trigger.
The U.S. Park Police were the first to investigate, but according to conspiracy theorists, they neglected the protocol mandating that all suspected suicides first be investigated as homicides. In addition, they failed to retain such evidence as Foster’s beeper and were remiss in not conducting a thorough search of the crime scene and the surrounding area. Overexposed photographs of the scene were considered worthless by subsequent investigators, and later the X rays of Foster’s skull, along with the ineffective crime scene photographs, disappeared.
The timeline of Foster’s death becomes greatly jumbled. Some witnesses stated that Foster’s office was being cleaned out before the Park Police arrived to seal it. Several boxes of documents were allegedly removed by Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, Margaret Williams, and carried to the private residence area of the White House.
The Park Police supposedly arrived on the scene of Foster’s death at 6:00 P.M. and had identified the body by 6:30 but delayed notifying the White House until 8:30. The staff was allegedly not told of Foster’s death until at least 9:00 P.M., and the official identification of Foster’s body by Craig Livingstone, former White House security director, did not take place until 10:00 P.M.
Arkansas state trooper Roger Perry later said that he felt the FBI tried to pressure him into changing his testimony about when the White House was notified of Foster’s death. Perry says he was at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock when he answered a call from Chelsea Clinton’s nanny, a close Foster family friend, alerting him to Foster’s apparent suicide. Perry says he’s positive the call came in between 6:30 and 7:30 P.M. (CST; 7:30–8:30 Washington, D.C., time). The nanny testified before Congress that she herself did not learn of the tragedy until about 10 P.M. and did not place the call to Little Rock until 10:30.
Back in Little Rock, none of Foster’s friends and former associates accepted his death as a suicide. Former Arkansas state trooper and Clinton confidant L. D. Brown said on October 31, 1998, that he didn’t know how Foster had died, but he did know that both investigations by independent counsels Robert Fiske and Kenneth Starr were cover-ups. Brown went on to say that the most relevant fact about Vince Foster was that he and Hillary Clinton were in the middle of a “long torrid affair.” Brown said that he ought to know, he was there: “Hillary and I talked about it often during late-night chats in the Governor’s mansion. This affair started in Little Rock and drew Vince Foster to Washington and to his death. Without putting the affair between these two people at its center, without interviewing Hillary, any investigation into the death of Vince Foster will be totally compromised.”
Among conspiracy theorists’ contentions that Foster’s death was murder, rather than suicide, are the following:
- The positions of Foster’s arms and legs were extremely inconsistent with suicide.
- The almost total lack of blood and brain tissue at the site indicates that Foster was killed elsewhere and carried to the park.
- Foster was not wearing gloves, yet neither of the revolver’s handgrips yielded any of his fingerprints.
- If Foster had truly placed the barrel of the .38 revolver in his mouth and pulled the trigger, the blowback would have coated the pistol and Foster’s hand and white shirt sleeve with a spray of blood and powder residue. No blood or gunpowder residue was found on the barrel, cylinder, or grips, and very little blood was found at the site.
- Foster must have already been dead when the pistol was placed in his mouth, for the head wound would have continued to bleed for some time even after death.
A Zogby poll of the American public five years after Vincent Foster’s alleged suicide revealed that 70 percent rejected the official story of his death.