Hatch Asks Freeh For Independent Investigation
By Terry Frieden/CNN
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 8) -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch Monday formally asked FBI Director Louis Freeh to investigate fund-raising activities of President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, independent of Attorney General Janet Reno and her Justice Department task-force prosecutors.
Hatch sent the three-page letter to Freeh, then released it publicly. "I write to urge you to proceed independently with an investigation into the Clinton Administration's alleged fund-raising abuses," Hatch said.
"Although the attorney general is, of course, the federal government's chief law enforcement officer, you have an independent obligation to ensure that the nation's laws are upheld," Hatch wrote.
The Utah Republican cited a statute [Title 18 U.S.C. 535] which says, "The attorney general and the FBI may investigate any violation of the criminal code involving government officers and employees." Hatch told Freeh, "This concurrent grant of investigatory power authorizes you to exercise independent judgment in conducting criminal investigations."
Hatch concluded, "I encourage you to fulfill your oath, abide by statutory obligations, and pursue an investigation into the administration's possible campaign finance abuses, as you see fit."
Earlier today, Justice Department officials were described by one senior aide to Reno as "astonished" by Hatch's notion, after he disclosed Sunday his intention to send the letter to Freeh.
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