Mayor Marion Barry said yesterday that he has not received confidential information about the continuing federal probe of D.C. government contracting that was allegedly leaked to his associates by FBI clerks.
"I don't need any" information, Barry said. "I'm not a target and have never been a target of any investigation."
Barry, responding to questions at his regular monthly news conference, described U.S. Attorney Joseph E. diGenova's corruption investigation as a "Mickey Mouse kind of operation" that has been marked by infighting between the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office.
"It's like a 10-cent spy novel," he said.
"One day it's this; one day it's that . . . . I have tried desperately to go about the business of managing the city, to let justice be done, and try to refrain from commenting on these charges and countercharges. I really think the public is tired of this back and forth," he added.
The mayor's comments reflect his recent effort to dismiss the investigation as trivial and unpopular.
Earlier, Barry's efforts were focused on a courtroom strategy of seeking legal sanctions against the U.S. attorney on the grounds that federal authorities allegedly leaked information to the media.
With the suit under appeal after its dismissal by a U.S. District Court judge last month, Barry aides have said the mayor now believes that the public is weary of continuing news stories about the probe and will respond sympathetically if he accords it little public attention.
Representatives of the news media, he told reporters yesterday, "could be heroes" by refusing to print or broadcast information leaked to them about the investigation.
"You all could just rise to the occasion," he said. "I really think it's time for the Washington media to set an example for the media of this country, that we have risen above the muck and guck of what they try to do, and you all would be heroes."
Informed sources have said that FBI investigators are probing whether FBI clerks, identified by the sources as Deitrice Young and Meta Carpenter, funneled sensitive information to Barry associates through Herbert Young, a longtime acquaintance of Barry's who was indicted last week on cocaine distribution charges. Deitrice Young, who is not related to Herbert Young, resigned from the FBI Monday. Both clerks have denied passing any information.
Herbert Young, who pleaded not guilty to the drug charges Monday, has told acquaintances that prosecutors have attempted to question him about $41,000 worth of city business that he obtained after telling the mayor of an FBI surveillance of the mayor's house.
Yesterday, Barry described his relationship with Young as a "professional" one. "I very rarely see him," Barry said.
Earlier, Barry said he had talked with Young in May, but denied that Young informed him of an FBI surveillance.
The mayor said yesterday that if Young had approached him to tell him of FBI surveillance, Barry's response would have been, "Thank you very much. I already know that."
"It's just annoying," Barry said of the surveillance. "They can watch me. They can bug me. They can do anything they want. Effi and I were talking about it the other night. We were saying we were going to talk in sign language, in terms of our bedroom."
The Washington Post has reported that the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office are attempting to determine whether city officials were trying to interfere with the contracting probe when the officials ordered electronic surveillance sweeps of the mayor's campaign headquarters and the homes of several of his Cabinet members.
One source has said that Young was one of several of the mayor's associates who have been able to get sensitive information from law enforcement agencies, and that some city officials have used the information to hinder the contracting probe. The source said these allegations are part of a broad obstruction of justice investigation arising out of the contracting probe.
Young has told acquaintances that it was well known among contractors that undercover agents were posing as contractors or employes of contractors. The 17-month undercover phase of the contracting probe was disclosed by diGenova on May 22.
Barry, in responding to questions about the probe yesterday, said that if the city had additional home rule powers, such an investigation would be handled differently.
"This is another example of why we need home rule," he said. "If we were in charge of the prosecutorial aspect of state laws -- if we were in Maryland or in the Commonwealth of Virginia -- the attorney general of Virginia and Maryland would be investigating this and empaneling grand juries, and I guarantee you we wouldn't have this Mickey Mouse kind of operation where things were going beyond what was contemplated by the founding fathers."
The federal probe centers on allegations that several contractors obtained city business improperly. Federal investigators are probing whether D.C. businessman John B. Clyburn, a close friend of Barry's, acted as a middleman in steering contracts to others, and whether former Barry aide David E. Rivers also steered contracts.
In addition, federal authorities were told by convicted cocaine dealer Karen K. Johnson that she received $20,000 to $25,000 from Clyburn and other contractors in exchange for her refusal three years ago to testify before a grand jury investigating alleged drug use by Barry and others, sources have said.
The mayor, who has denied using or buying drugs, has not been charged in the probe. He has been joined by leading black political figures here and around the country in accusing the Justice Department of mounting a racially motivated attack on black politiccans.