The House leadership tried to come to the aid of the floundering investigation of South Korean influence buying yesterday but was forced to retreat temporary in face of strong objections.
In a more that surprised and angered many members, Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-Tex.) and Minority Leader John J. Rhodes (R-Ariz.) attempted to rush through a nobinding resolution to postpone nonmilitary aid to South Korea until House investigators were allowed to question a former Korean ambassador under oath.
Leon Jaworski, special counsel to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, sought and received the backing for the resolution from the entire committee and Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-mass) Wednesday night.
Jaworski has said for months that testimony from Kim Dong Jo, Korean ambassador to the United States in the early 1970s, was as vital to completion of his investigation as that already heard from highly publicized businessman Tongsun Park.
Testimony in public hearings last fall alleged that Kim had delivered envelopes stuffed with $100 bills to House members and that his wife had given cash to members' wives during the 1975 trip to Seoul.
Yesterday's action was designed to counteract last week's decisive defeat of a similar resolution. But wright and Rhodes withdrew the new attempt after objections that members were being rushed and that the resolution should be referred first to the International Relations Committee, which has jurisdiction over foreign aid.
The leadership dropped plans to try to push the resolution through Tuesday under a two-thirds required vote rule and referred it instead to the International Relations Committee.
That committee has scheduled a hearing on the resolution for Monday, a staff member said, and is expected to seek testimony from jaworski and a representing from the State Department.
Some House members expressed concern yesterday that the demand for Kim's testimony would set a precedent that could backfire on the United States by triggering calls for similar testimony from U.S. officials.
In a related development, Sen. Adlai Stevenson (D-Ill.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, told the Associated Press yesterday that a lengthy report of his parallel investigation will show no senator took bribes from the Koreans.
"What the public will see, I think, is some political expedience, some human weakness campaign contributions from questionable sources," he said.
'But it will not see . . . money from Tongsun Park in return for favors and a policy friendly to South Korea,"