Cut The Jargon: Reno explains her decision in layman's terms

Top Story: Reno Spurns Demands For Special Prosecutor

Reno's Letter: Text of rejection letter

Reaction: Republicans Denounce Reno's Decision

In Focus: Fund-Raising Flap: Cast of characters, timeline, background

'Toons: Reno Evil

Voter's Voice: What do you think of Reno's decision? Tell us, we'll post it on the Web

Take A Stand: Is an independent counsel warranted to probe Democratic fund-raising? You decide

Counterpoint: A disagreement on an independent counsel

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Reno Shrugs Off Critics Of Counsel Decision

'I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't,' says attorney general, 'so the best thing I can do is ignore the politics'

By Terry Frieden/CNN


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 17) -- Attorney General Janet Reno this morning shrugged off harsh criticism she's received from many Republican lawmakers for her decision three days ago not to seek an independent counsel in the Democratic fund-raising controversy.

In her first public comments on the controversy since issuing her decision, Reno told reporters at her weekly briefing, "I take everything based on the evidence and the law. I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't, and so the best thing I can do is ignore the politics, ignore the pressures, pressures from both sides ... and just call it like I see it." (192K wav sound)

"We have reviewed all the evidence," Reno said, "all the rumor, statement, paper -- and at this point we can't find specific and credible evidence that any covered person -- any person specifically named by Congress with whom I would have an automatic conflict -- has violated a federal law." (352K wav sound)

Reno also explained why she did not invoke the separate provision that gives her the discretion to seek an independent counsel to investigate persons not covered by the statute if she has a conflict of interest in pursuing allegations. The attorney general said, "At this point I have not found a basis for determining that there is an actual conflict. Now, people say 'There seems to be an appearance of conflict' ... I've got to find an actual conflict."

Asked about claims there is political interference with her task force looking into the fund-raising issue, Reno said, "Statements like that just don't affect anything that we're doing."

Reno will apparently get her first dose of face-to-face criticism on the independent counsel issue at a Senate hearing moved up from mid-May to April 30. Asked why she agreed to the earlier date, knowing she would be "roasted" by GOP Judiciary Committee members, Reno replied, "I'm not afraid to answer questions." (320K wav sound)

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