Reno Wants More Time For Clinton Probe
President: 'I feel nothing' about her investigation
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 14) -- Although she says she is "unable to determine whether there is sufficient specific and credible evidence to suggest a violation of Federal criminal law," Attorney General Janet Reno has asked a three-judge panel for an extension in the probe of President Bill Clinton's fund-raising until Dec. 3.
Sources close to the investigation say the FBI asked Reno for more time to re-interview witnesses and track what happened to some funds donated to the Democrats.
"I have conducted an initial inquiry to determine whether I have received information sufficient to constitute grounds to investigate," Reno wrote in a statement announcing the move.
"Because the initial inquiry period is limited to 30 days, and because of the complexity of the factual and legal issues presented by this matter, I have been unable to determine whether there is sufficient specific and credible evidence to suggest a violation of Federal criminal law. As a result, I am required to commence a preliminary investigation."
At a news conference in Brasilia with Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the president told reporters today he feels "nothing" about Reno's decision.
"I feel nothing about it," Clinton said to a reporter's question during the second leg of his South American tour. "There is a law and there are facts. And I feel that it would be much better if she were permitted to do her job. I know I didn't do anything wrong. I did everything I could to comply with the law. (448k wav sound)
"The thing I don't feel good about is the overt, explicit, overbearing attempt to politicize this whole process and to put pressure on more than one actor in it. That's wrong," Clinton said.
The president also said he was not embarrassed by having to field questions on such topics so far from home. (96K wav sound)
Clinton lawyer David Kendall said in a statement, "In view of the many issues the Department of Justice must resolve, today's announcement is hardly surprising."
"It's important for the department to take whatever time is necessary to complete a thorough investigation," Kendall said. "At the conclusion of such an inquiry, however, it will be clear that there are no grounds for the appointment of an independent counsel."
Reno's move is still short of what Republicans would like to see. "The attorney general is taking a step in the right direction," said Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, "but, so far, she has stopped short of taking the action which is decisive and necessary: requesting the court to appoint independent counsel."
As late as Friday, Justice Department prosecutors were thinking about shutting down the investigation, after finding no specific, credible evidence that any crime took place.
But the FBI made it clear over the weekend that it had not completed its investigation. The bureau wants to re-interview some witnesses, sources say.
Justice officials also wanted additional time to make sure they got the matter right.
The FBI wants to know if any Clinton conversations led to soft-money campaign contributions being shifted to so-called hard-money accounts.
Reno sent her request to the appellate court panel early this afternoon. Reno reportedly wanted to make the decision today because she is due to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, where she will be grilled about the Justice Department's fund-raising investigation. That testimony is set for 9:30 a.m. EDT.
CNN's Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.
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Tuesday Oct. 14, 1997
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