June 01, 1998 12:00 AM

The Bush administration is still trying to pick up the pieces — rather, keys — of the alleged mess they were faced with when they moved into The White House, where they say they discovered hundreds of computer keyboards missing the essential “W” keys, according to the Associated Press and other sources. In addition to the computer damage, some staff members say they encountered numerous other acts of apparent vandalism, which they blame on outgoing Clinton aides. Bush staffers say glass desktops were broken, keyboards were doused with fluids and tags identifying phone numbers were switched. The new administration is asking staffers to report any suspected vandalism, but a spokesman said Thursday he doubts anything will be done with the findings. “Part of changing the tone in Washington is to allow some things that others may have made a focus of, to let pass,” said White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. Karen Tramontano, the counselor to President Clinton’s chief of staff, John Podesta, said she was in the West Wing of the White House and adjacent office buildings late the night that Clinton left office, and saw nothing awry. “We left everything in good condition,” she said. “We all left our offices intact.” However, several former officials in the Clinton administration told The Washington Post that some pranks were played on the incoming Republicans, but they say nothing malicious was intended. The actions, they said, were meant to be humorous. Bush administration officials said they didn’t find the alleged vandalism funny and say it will cost taxpayer money to clean up and repair.

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