A top Justice Department official has rejected a request by four Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the actions of a White House aide involved in an alleged deal with fugitive financier Robert Vesco.
Deputy Attorney General Charles B. Renfrew told the senators that their concerns about possible perjury by White House assistant Richard Harden and the Carter administration's refusal to let him testify publicly before a Senate subcommittee did not have enough legal basis to require asking a special court to appoint a special prosecutor.
Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) have been questioning why a federal grand jury never returned indictments in an alleged plot by Vesco to bribe White House aides to settle his legal problems. In his letter to Hatch and three other Republicans, Renfrew noted that Harden's grand jury testimony about his involvement in the alleged scheme was taken within 90 days of enactment of the special prosecutor law. Because Justice already was investigating the case at the time, further review by a special prosecutor is barred, he said.
The senator's complaints about the resistance to Harden's Senate testimony failed to charge a specific violation of a federal statue, Renfrew added.
Columnist Jack Anderson disclosed the alleged Vesco plot in 1978. White House officials denied that any Carter administration aides succumbed to the alleged bribe attempts. A federal grand jury investigated the matter for more than a year without returning indictments.
In other developments involving Vesco yesterday, the FBI said it may have helped spark his ouster from the Bahamas and Vesco charged that the Carter administration was engaged in a last-ditch effort "to get me."
Clement Maynard, Bahamian minister of home affairs, said Monday that Vesco must leave his Nassau hideaway by Dec. 11 or face deportation.
No reason was given for revoking Vesco's residency permit, in effect since 1978. He spent the previous five years in Costa Rica.
The Justice Department is seeking to prosecute Vesco on long-pending charges that he gave Richard Nixon an illegal $250,000 campaign contribution and plundered a mutual fund of $224 million.
Authur Nehrbass, special agent in charge of the FBI's Miami office, told United Press International that Vesco may have been ousted "in part based on the information we've given" Bahamian officials about his alleged involvement in illegal activities.
Vesco, reached in the Bahamas, told UPI that the administration was engaged in "the last desperate efforts to get me."