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To his consternation, allegations were being made that funds from the bank had been illegally diverted to Bill Clinton's campaign for governor in the mid-Eighties - and that Bill and Hillary had intervened with state regulators to help keep the bank solvent.Foster was also fretting over the "excessive" sums Hillary was lavishing on redecoration of the White House.Was some of this weighing on Vince Foster's mind when he became both White House deputy counsel and attorney for both Bill and Hillary?What is certain is that he was unsettled by the First Lady's increasingly uncompromising demands.Worse still, none of the charges against the original travel office employees stood up, and their precipitous dismissals became a damaging test of Hillary's honesty.She now insisted that the firings were not her fault.One of Hillary's friends said: "They were all afraid to say no to her." She was a hard taskmaster and would call her staff at home after hours to make trifling requests. According to White House chronicler Bob Woodward, she "frequently reduced her personal travelling aide to tears" when the assistant failed to produce something Hillary needed. They take it, and they bow and scrape." According to one commentator, the reason Hillary surrounded herself with women was because she found men too complicated.
Aware of all the talk even before his arrival in Washington, Foster himself raised the subject in his first meeting with the man who would be his immediate boss, White House counsel Bernie Nussbaum. And when his wife, Lisa, was asked about it later, she insisted: "I don't think Hillary would do it.
"Women were drawn to him not just because he was smart and handsome, but because he seemed to keep secrets." At the funeral for Hillary's father, who died during the Clintons' first term at the White House, it was on Foster's shoulder that the First Lady rested her slightly over-large head.
Inevitably, this intimate gesture added fuel to rumours that they were - or at least had been - romantically involved.
"One time, Hillary said: 'Mel, your problem is you just aren't mean enough,'" recalled her friend Mary Mel French."I couldn't work for her and keep our friendship. Hillary used to say he reminded her of Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird - reserved, upright and dependable.
"People gravitated to Vince because he was a world-class listener," recalled a former Little Rock lawyer.
It was the same method of suicide used by a Marine officer in the film A Few Good Men - which Foster was known recently to have watched.