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Reno Decides to Expand Investigation of Gore (Oct. 4)

Vice President Is Thrust Into Unfamiliar Role (Oct. 4)

House Republicans' Call For Independent Counsel Rejected

Saturday, October 4, 1997; Page A06

Attorney General Janet Reno yesterday offered a detailed response to a request from 20 Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee that she seek the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate the campaign finance scandal. Her letter addressed to Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), the committee chairman, reiterated many of the points she has made in response to previous requests for an independent counsel. It also included her first public comments on three major allegations in the campaign finance scandal:


The Republicans alleged that Reno had sufficient grounds to investigate President Clinton for accepting bribes. They based this charge on numerous news reports that they said suggested Clinton took campaign contributions in exchange for official actions that benefited donors. The bulk of the accusations involve alleged efforts by the Chinese government and businessmen linked to China to win influence with campaign contributions.

Reno responded specifically on Clinton's involvement: "At this time we are aware of no specific and credible evidence – indeed, we are aware of no evidence whatsoever – indicating that the president may have demanded, sought, received or accepted, or agreed to receive or accept, any of these donations or contributions in quid pro quo exchange for official action, or participated in any criminal conspiracy to do so."

However, Reno added, "The campaign financing task force is investigating the circumstances surrounding many of these contributions for other potential violations."


The Republicans alleged that Vice President Gore participated in a conspiracy to violate the tax-exempt status of the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple in Hacienda Heights, Calif., when he attended a fund-raising event there on April 29, 1996.

Reno responded, "The task force has been engaged in thoroughly investigating that event, and as a result has gathered considerable information concerning the vice president's role in it. To date, we have discovered no information that indicates the vice president may have violated the laws you cite, or any other law, in connection with the Hsi Lai Temple event."


The Republicans alleged that Clinton and Gore controlled Democratic fund-raising operations at a time when the party allegedly accepted numerous illegal donations from foreign nationals.

Reno responded, "While the task force is closely scrutinizing allegations of illegal fund-raising, it has to date uncovered no evidence indicating that either the president or the vice president engaged in conduct constituting a criminal violation of FECA [Federal Election Campaign Act]."

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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