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Reno's Decision Expected Next Week

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WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Nov. 25) -- Attorney General Janet Reno left today for meetings in Mexico without announcing a decision whether to seek an independent counsel to investigate alleged campaign fund-raising abuses during the 1996 election. A Justice Department source said there will be no decision until Monday or Tuesday.

Sources said Reno wanted staff recommendations in writing, so she can review them in detail before she makes a final decision.

Some FBI officials have long maintained the Justice Department has a conflict of interest, and they argue that the narrow issue of fund-raising telephone calls by President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore cannot be viewed in a vacuum.

A number of FBI officials believe the calls must be studied in the context of the overall allegations that Clinton officials engaged in a conspiracy to circumvent campaign finance laws in the last election.

Reno has said FBI Director Louis Freeh will be consulted on investigative strategy, but emphasized that the final decision on asking for an independent counsel is hers alone to make. She has until next Tuesday to decide.

Should Reno not seek an independent counsel investigation against Clinton and Gore on the telephone call issue, there are still more allegations for her to ponder.

On Nov. 13, congressional Republicans sent Reno a letter requesting an independent counsel to investigate allegations that Clinton and other White House officials illegally influenced a decision to block an Indian tribe's application for a gambling casino. After the application was blocked, Indian tribes opposing the casino made contributions to Democratic party coffers totalling about $270,000. Justice sources say the department is in a 30-day review of the letter and the allegations.

Justice officials have already begun a 90-day investigation of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt regarding the casino issue.

Specter says Justice probe is too narrow

In another development, Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter said today the campaign finance investigation by the Justice Department is "too narrowly focused."

In a letter to Reno, Specter said, "According to press reports, you are focusing solely on telephone calls from federal property ... when there is substantial evidence of wrongdoing" that meets the threshold of the independent counsel statute.

Specter said other issues which would require the appointment of an independent counsel included the transfer of donations raised as "soft money," which is for general party-building activities, to "hard" money use in the Clinton-Gore campaign. He also cited fund-raising conducted in the White House itself.

In Other News:

Tuesday Nov. 25, 1997

Reno's Decision Expected Next Week
The Making Of The Presidential Turkey
Study: Money Follows Party In Power
Judge: Paula Jones Can Amend Lawsuit
Doublespeak Awards
Union Board Files Charges Against Carey
Albright To Visit African Countries
Tax Software Offered For Free
Prudential, Justice Department Settle
Congress Nears Showdown Over Trade
GOP To Attack Fed. Programs In 1998
Starr Accuser Loses At Justice Dept
Tree Donors Tree Doesn't Measure Up

E-Mail From Washington:
Pacific Rim Leaders Endorse Bailout Plan
Senator Decries Violent Video Games
Gore Wants To Attend Kyoto Climate Conference

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