The final, official report
from the Government Accounting Office was released on June 11,
2002. The 220 page document says there was damage, although not as much as some of the early reports
had suggested. The GAO says the damage included 62 missing
computer keyboards, 26 cell phones, two cameras, ten antique doorknobs
and several presidential medallions and office signs. The damage
estimate was about $20,000. Clinton critics say the report
proves that the departing Clinton staff members acted recklessly and
disrespectfully. Clinton supporters say the report shows that
the allegations of vandalism were exaggerated and that there were similar incidents when Clinton took over the White House from
the staff of George Bush.
The GAO report concludes that even though damage was verified and
that some of it appeared to have been intentional, there was not
clear evidence of who was responsible for it.
has been a subject of contention since President Bush took
office. There were reports of vandalism, graffiti, and
obscene messages in White House offices by outgoing Clinton
staffers. Bush downplayed the reports saying he wanted to move
on with the presidency. Clinton supporters, however, charged
that the story was not true and that the Bush forces had made up the
story to make Bush's staff look better than Clinton's.
Former President Clinton offered to pay for any damage and his
supporters called for an investigation.
May 18, 2001 the General Accounting Office issued a three-page
letter that said that it was unable confirm the damage largely to a
lack of records from the White House. The letter also said
condition of the White House offices was "...consistent with what we would expect to
encounter when tenants vacate office space after an extended
occupancy." As to any details of damage, the GAO letter
said For supporters of former President Clinton, that seemed to end
the matter. They proclaimed victory, called the whole story an
urban legend, and asked the White House to apologize.
In response, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer outlined the
details of the damage, most of which was in the Eisenhower Execitive
Office Building adjacent to the White House. On June 3, 2001 The Washington Post
quoted Fleischer as saying that the damage included the removal of
the letter "W"
from 100 computer keyboards, five missing brass nameplates with the
presidential seal on them, 75 telephones with cover plates missing
or apparently intentionally plugged into the wrong wall outlets, six
fax machines relocated in the same way, ten cut phone lines, two
historic door knobs missing, overturned desks and furniture in about
20 percent of the offices, obscene graffiti in six offices, and
eight 14-foot loads of usable office supplies recovered from the
trash. According to Fleischer, there was one incident in the White House itself, a
photocopy machine that had copies of naked people hidden in the
paper tray so they would come out from time to time with other
Critics of the Bush administration said they didn't trust the White
On June 5, 2001, the General Accounting Office announced that it had
launched an investigation into the matter, which was released on
June 11, 2002.
There was a companion story that Air Force One had been the victim of
the outgoing Clintons and that numerous items from aboard the plane
had been pilfered. President Bush himself told reporters aboard
Air Force one on February 12, 2001, that the report was not
true. According to Salon Washington correspondent Jake Tipper,
Bush brought up the subject because the chief steward
aboard Air Force One told him the allegations were false.