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FBI Director Answers Campaign Fund-Raising Questions

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 4) -- FBI Director Louis Freeh answered to a Senate committee today on a wide range of issues his agency has been struggling with lately, including the ongoing investigation into campaign fund-raising and the question of supplying the president with necessary intelligence. (448K wav sound)

Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Freeh refused to divulge the advice he gave to Attorney General Janet Reno on appointing an independent counsel to investigate suspected 1996 campaign fund-raising abuses.

When asked directly about a Washington Post report that he supported an independent investigation, Freeh said, "The views that I've given to the attorney general, which she has asked for on this matter in particular, are really confidential discussions and advice." (384K wav sound)

Freeh said that he did not know how the report was leaked to the Post, and hoped the information did not come from FBI sources.

He insisted that Reno has remained "open-minded" on the subject and continues to ask for his advice. Freeh also said that the two have good relationship.

Freeh did comment on the decision by the Justice Department, earlier this year, to limit the information it gave the White House about its investigation into Chinese involvement in alleged improper fund-raising activities.

The director reportedly opposed giving the White House a full briefing on the FBI investigation. But Reno made the decision to give the White House a limited briefing after the White House complained.

"I don't agree with the contention that national security information was withheld from the president ... I think the attorney general made a decision that gave to the president, in my view and in the attorney general's view, the national security information that he was required to have," Freeh said.

Freeh, in particular, and the FBI in general were widely praised for the guilty verdict in the federal Oklahoma City bombing trial of Timothy McVeigh and for "straightening out" FBI problems.

In regard to speculation that Freeh may resign, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) urged the director to stay in his job. Freeh indicated he had no plans to do otherwise but didn't quite close the door on leaving before his term is up.

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