D.C. Mayor Marion Barry met with key advisers last night to discuss whether he should announce this week that he will not seek a fourth term, while his top political adviser sharply criticized Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.) for trying to pressure the mayor to step aside.
Barry, whose trial on drug and perjury charges enters its second week in federal court today, held a series of private meetings over the weekend amid intense speculation that he has decided not to run again to give his lawyers leverage in working out a possible plea agreement with U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens.
Anita Bonds, the mayor's top political adviser, said Barry and his supporters are "furious" with Fauntroy, a candidate for mayor, for his public efforts on Capitol Hill and in statements she said were designed to pressure Barry to step aside.
"In words and deeds, Fauntroy is really helping the prosecutor," Bonds said. "The citizens don't like that. They're furious."
Robert L. Johnson, Fauntroy's campaign manager, declined to comment last night on Bonds's remarks.
Bonds also indicated that the Barry camp was troubled by Jesse L. Jackson's high-profile attempt last week to publicly mediate an agreement between the mayor and the prosecutor.
Jackson and Barry met several times last week, and Jackson said he had urged the mayor to renounce his interest in seeking a fourth term and to pursue a plea agreement in which Barry would admit to several misdemeanor offenses.
Bonds, said some Barry supporters are "mad at Jesse too" for his intervention, but she focused most of her anger on Fauntroy.
The delegate, whose mayoral campaign has been slowed by internal turmoil, urged Barry late last month to avoid a trial, which he said would be "unnecessarily destructive" and lead to a "circus" of international media attention.
Last week, Fauntroy reportedly discussed the need for a plea agreement with some Republican members of Congress in hopes of getting them to help pressure the Bush administration to force Stephens to make a deal with the mayor.
The Washington Post reported yesterday that Barry has concluded that a withdrawal from the mayoral race could help his defense team and that he could take himself out of the race as early as today, according to sources.
An adviser to Barry said late yesterday that, as far as he was concerned, the mayor still hadn't made up his mind and that he would urge Barry to hold out for a good deal from the prosecutor.
Bonds insisted that "neither the mayor nor the defense team is looking for any deal" and that "they will be in court Monday continuing with jury selection."
Stephens could not be reached over the weekend for comment, but he has released a statement saying that Barry's resignation was "irrelevant" to the case.
Sources familiar with the prosecution's side of the case said Stephens would likely take a similar stance with regard to Barry's declaring he will not run again.