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Downey attorney calls on FBI to wrap up debate tape probe

Attorney suggests Bush camp is involved

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An attorney representing one of the principle figures in the controversy surrounding the mysterious mailing of GOP presidential debate preparation materials to the Democratic camp called on the FBI on Wednesday to wrap up the investigation and "tell the American people what happened."

In this story:

Justice won't discuss 'interim findings'
Bush campaign dismisses suggestions

In a letter to FBI Director Louis Freeh and Attorney General Janet Reno, attorney Marc Miller, who represents former congressman Thomas Downey, appeared to blame the George W. Bush presidential campaign for the entire incident.

The investigation stems from the anonymous mailing in September of Bush debate preparation materials, including a videotape, to Downey, a friend of Al Gore who had been helping the vice president prepare for the debates.

Downey turned the material over to the FBI and recused himself from any further debate work with Gore.


The FBI is trying to determine who sent the materials. Both the Bush and Gore campaigns have denied any knowledge or responsibility for the incident.

"It is time for this investigation to be finished and for the information compiled to be released so that the American people can evaluate its significance," Miller said in his letter.

Justice won't discuss 'interim findings'

A Justice Department official acknowledged that the letter had been received, but declined further comment.

"It would be inappropriate to reveal interim findings," the official said. "We appreciate Mr. Downey's concerns. However, we are still investigating the matter and following leads."

The primary focus of the FBI investigation has been an employee of Bush's media consultant, but the agency has not filed any formal charges, nor publicly accused anyone of any improper activity.

Miller said the Republican presidential campaign had demonstrated "noticeably little public interest" in solving the mystery and said media reports indicate that Bush operatives had not been fully cooperative in the FBI probe.

"As a result ... it now appears to be more likely than not that the original transmission of the material to Mr. Downey was not in fact a misguided act of a single person acting alone -- as Mr. Downey had initially assumed -- but rather the concerted, intentional act by more than one person associated with the Bush campaign," Miller wrote.

Bush campaign dismisses suggestions

Ari Fleischer, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, dismissed that suggestion.

"It's one of the more bizarre letters I've seen," Fleischer said. "No one wants to know more than we do how these tapes got into the Gore camp. It is just very, very bizarre. It is a seamless series of groundless accusations."

Fleischer charged that the Gore campaign was "not content with what the FBI is doing."

By contrast, he added, "We are pleased to let the FBI do its job without political interference."



Wednesday, October 25, 2000


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