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Special Event

Janet Reno Farewell Speech

Aired January 11, 2001 - 12:12 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you right over to the U.S. Justice Department right now, where there is a ceremony under way, and you see the sustained applause right there on your television screen for Attorney General Janet Reno. This is her farewell moment before the assembled masses, to include the FBI director Louis Freeh and others. She was in from the beginning of this administration, has weathered Waco, independent counsel, campaign fund-raising, and much else, has been a figure of some considerable controversy over the years.

Attorney General Janet Reno speaking now.

JANET RENO, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: As I have told you before, whatever I have done was done by you.

I work for one of the greatest institutions that I know of. I work with the most wonderful public servants anywhere in the world.

For the last eight years, I've had a chance that few lawyers ever have: to work with wonderful public servants; the best lawyers I have known; the best law enforcement agents; wonderful administrators; great support staff; people who take good care of me, like the guards who greet me at the front in the morning with the latest news.

You have all touched my life in such an extraordinary way. But it has been a remarkable experience.

Mr. Brown, I'm not sure that in 1962, when you taught me tax at Harvard Law School, that we ever dreamed we'd be here today in this capacity. But...

(APPLAUSE)

But Ernest Brown represents to me what public service is about. After a full career as a professor of constitutional and tax at Harvard Law School, he has served over 30 years here in the department, and some extraordinarily distinguished service. And he represents to me what the department is all about.

You come here and you don't know what an EOUSA and an EOR (ph) and an OPR and an OJP is.

(LAUGHTER) And then people take you by the hand and they start teaching you, and you see a team forged. Those who are appointments of the new administration, those civil service and career people come together.

And this team that we have forged together, that is a team, is extraordinary. We have been through some of the darkest times. We have been through times of joy. We have been to lonely hillside cemeteries and mourned for those who gave their lives in the service of our country. And we have laughed and told stories on each other and wondered what we could do to get around some rule of Shirley's (ph), knowing that we'd never do it.

(LAUGHTER)

Leadership offices have been magnificent. I have been so fortunate to have the deputy attorney general who is there whenever I need him, but is out there forging his own way and doing so much to contribute to justice in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

RENO: Ben Marcus is new and I wish he weren't. I wish he'd been around for a long time. I have been very fortunate to have great, great people in that position.

And the solicitor general.

(LAUGHTER)

RENO: I know of no greater, better, finer lawyer and more wonderful person.

SESNO: A grateful and emotional Janet Reno bidding farewell to those who have worked so closely with her and around her over these last eight years, bidding farewell from the Justice Department to the likes of Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder -- we saw a picture of him a moment ago -- the FBI director, Louis Freeh, with whom she has had some rather public disagreements over the past over things such as the independent counsel, whether there should be one to look into allegations lodged against the president. It's been a controversial tenure for the attorney general, but one that has done all the way through, all eight years, despite her Parkinson's Disease.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN ANCHOR: And even thank you to the guards who greet her.

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