The Justice Department is trying to secure the cooperation of an indicted businessman as it pursues Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign for possible fundraising violations, according to interviews and documents.
The FBI told a U.S. magistrate in Los Angeles two years ago that it has evidence Clinton's campaign deliberately understated its fundraising costs so it would have more money to spend on elections. Prosecutors contend that businessman Peter Paul made donations because he wanted a pardon from President Bill Clinton.
Paul has denied he raised money for Mrs. Clinton to boost his chance for a pardon, and he asserted that campaign officials told him the contributions would be disclosed as required by law, his defense team said. He did not receive a pardon.
Noel L. Hillman, the Justice Department's top public corruption attorney, has met three times -- most recently in May -- with lawyers for Paul to discuss a plea deal. The investigation has continued for more than three years. The department wants to interview Paul to determine whether he can substantiate allegations of wrongdoing, his defense lawyers said.
Paul is a three-time convicted felon who hosted a Hollywood fundraising event for Mrs. Clinton in 2000. He alleges he underwrote most of the costs for the event.
Lawyers for Mrs. Clinton and the former chief fundraiser for the New York Senate 2000, David Rosen, say their clients have done nothing wrong.
Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said he had no comment.