Reno promises Ashcroft smooth transition
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Attorney General Janet Reno on Thursday said he had talked to potential successor John Ashcorft and promised a smooth transition at the Justice Department, despite the major policy differences between the two.
"I congratulated him on his nomination. I told him that I wanted to make sure that the transition, whenever it was appropriate, was done as smoothly as possible, and if there were any problems from his perspective to let me know, and he was very gracious," Reno told reporters. She called Ashcroft the Saturday following his nomination, and said discussed procedures, not policy.
"I didn't express any matters, opinions on any matters of substance. I think it's obvious that we disagree on a number of issues."
The attorney general would not identify programs or projects which she feared might be ended by Bush and Ashcroft, but did say she hoped that civil rights laws would be enforced.
"I want to make sure that we do everything we can to see that the civil rights laws are enforced in the tradition of William Rogers and the tradition of so many Republicans and Democrats, in the tradition of those federal judges in the South in the '50s and '60s."
Reno said no decision has been made about who will serve as acting attorney general during the period between her resignation and a Senate confirmation vote on Ashcroft. The Senate hearings are expected to be stormy, but Judiciary Committee sources in both parties say it appears the nomination will survive.
Reno indicated no concern that the Justice Department would be impaired if the confirmation is delayed, and recalled her own belated arrival in 1993.
"One of the things that I can tell you is, having come in on the heels of no confirmed attorney general for a month and a half, this department is a great institution. The people who work here do one heck of a job for the American people," Reno said.
Reno was confirmed after two other Clinton nominees for attorney general proved controversial and requested their nominations be withdrawn.