No, not that independent counsel. It's well-known former Atlanta U.S. attorney Larry D. Thompson, who recently finished a nine-year probe into favoritism in the Reagan administration's Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The special three-judge panel overseeing the independent counsel law last week terminated the corruption probe of HUD under former secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr., the longest ever under the independent counsel statute.

The investigation began in March 1990 under retired judge Arlin M. Adams of Philadelphia, and Thompson took over five years later. The effort effectively ended last fall with a report that accused former HUD officials of a "monumental and calculated abuse of the public trust" and found "a pattern of greed, criminal conduct and systematic corruption."

The investigation, which had cost $28.1 million as of March 1998, resulted in 17 criminal convictions. One matter, the 1993 conviction of Deborah Gore Dean, Pierce's executive assistant, is still going through appeals. The panel sent that case to the Justice Department for any further action.

A New China Deal?

So let's see: Our most favored trading partners, the Chinese communists, are demanding that the United States comply with several conditions before they'll accept our apology for that little problem with their embassy in Belgrade.

The Chinese are demanding an investigation, they want those responsible to be identified and punished, they're looking for some compensation and they'd like someone--say at the level of Undersecretary of State Thomas R. Pickering--to come to the Middle Kingdom to apologize.

On the other hand, friends and families of hundreds of people killed and injured in the Chinese regime's bloody crackdown on peaceful dissidents in Tiananmen Square 10 years ago have similar demands. Last week, they called on Beijing to allow an investigation into the massacre and punishment for those found responsible.

Hey. Let's make a deal--even though the Chinese actions were deliberate and the U.S. bombing was a mistake. How about Beijing meets those requests and Washington would meet theirs? Oldest civilization goes first.

Shalala's Court Date

Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala's schedule is a bit uncertain this week. The problem is that it's unclear when she's going to have to go over to D.C. Superior Court to testify in the trial, beginning today, of one of three people accused of trying to rob her at a Georgetown ATM one Sunday morning in March.

This was the time, Loop Fans may recall, when Shalala fell to the ground in a ball, protecting her wallet and screaming for help. (A well-known tactic often used by Cabinet secretaries to protect their agency budgets.)

Two of the perps--Donald Clark, who allegedly jumped out of the car and yelled "Give it up! Give it up!" and Sylvia Dorsey, the accused wheelwoman--have pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit robbery and to attempted robbery in another incident that day.

But the third defendant, Tawana Clark, identified by Shalala as standing next to Clark and arrested shortly afterward hiding in a shed, declined to cop a plea.

"Donna's going to positively ID her again," an HHS official predicted.

Monahan Move

Speaking of HHS, John Monahan, deputy assistant secretary in the Administration for Children and Families and an early 1992 Clinton campaign worker, is leaving to be a senior consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center on Urban Affairs.

Fannie Mae: Signings and Speculations

The folks at Fannie Mae are signing on some heavyweight politicos. Theodore E. Maness III, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee through the 1998 election cycle and before that chief of staff to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), is enlisting as vice president for industry relations.

And Washington lawyer Thomas E. Donilon, who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher, is leaving O'Melveny & Myers to be senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary.

Some folks speculate that if Vice President Gore wins the presidency, some lucrative jobs would open up at Fannie Mae. For example: Chairman James A. Johnson becomes Treasury secretary, Vice Chair Jamie S. Gorelick takes over the Justice Department and Donilon, having made by then more than enough money to support his newborn son, Teddy, runs his own agency or becomes deputy secretary of state to . . . Secretary Richard C. Holbrooke.

Clinton Appointments

Catching up on recent appointments, President Clinton has announced he will nominate McLean businessman M. Osman Siddique, who runs one of the largest travel management companies in the country, to be ambassador to Fiji. Clinton also tapped several career Foreign Service officers for overseas postings: Johnnie Carson, formerly ambassador to Zimbabwe and before that to Uganda, to be ambassador to Kenya; National Security Council aide Donald K. Bandler to be ambassador to Cyprus; and Thomas J. Miller, former No. 2 in Athens, to be ambassador to Bosnia.