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Lake's Confirmation Hearing Postponed

Lake

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 31) -- The Senate has put off hearings for another of President Bill Clinton's cabinet picks. The confirmation hearing of CIA director-designate Anthony Lake has been postponed to give the Justice Department more time to look into Lake's activities while he served as national security advisor during Clinton's first term.

The Senate Intelligence Committee announced that the hearing will be rescheduled from Feb. 11 to Feb. 25. Justice investigators are currently examining energy stocks held by Lake as well as his role in the U.S. decision to turn a blind eye as Iran supplied arms to Bosnian Muslims.

Committee chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said in a statement, "It would be premature and shortsighted for this committee to pre-empt the Justice Department's criminal investigation into Mr. Lake's handling of his investments, as well as allegations that Mr. Lake lied to Congress."

"I believe Mr. Lake deserves a fair, but rigorous, hearing regarding his nomination to be director of central intelligence," Shelby wrote.

The Justice Department requested more time Thursday to conduct its ethics probe of Lake's failure to sell energy stocks upon taking the administration post. The sale, netting $24,000, was put off for two years in spite of White House counsel advice to divest immmediately, and has been seen as a potential conflict of interest by Lake's critics.

Lake also admitted this week that his stock broker bought and sold another energy stock through Lake's portfolio last fall, only realizing the error later.

A House Republican report released this week suggests the former national security advisor may have provided false testimony to Congress about the arms shipments. The matter was referred to the Justice Department's criminal division which is looking into the charges.

White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry insisted that Lake is a "very strong nomination," but said that "senators have a right to pursue questions they think are legitimate." McCurry said the White House is sure that once given the opportunity to answer questions, Lake's "qualifications and excellence will shine through."

Lake joins labor secretary nominee Alexis Herman on the list of troubled nominations. Herman's hearings were delayed Thursday as Senate Republicans probe her role in Democratic campaign fund-raising and political outreach efforts.


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