Standing Firm: Reno Shrugs Off Criticism
Top Story: Reno Spurns Demands For Special Prosecutor
Reno's Letter: Text of rejection letter
Reaction: Republicans Denounce Reno's Decision
In Focus: Fund-Raising Flap: Cast of characters, timeline, background
'Toons: Reno Evil
Voter's Voice: What do you think of Reno's decision? Tell us, we'll post it on the Web
Take A Stand: Is an independent counsel warranted to probe Democratic fund-raising? You decide
Counterpoint: A disagreement on an independent counsel
Reno's Decision in Layman's Terms
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 17) -- Asked at her weekly briefing today how to explain in layman's terms her decision not to appoint an independent counsel to investigate Democratic fund-raising, Reno offered this:
"One of the things a prosecutor has got to do in order to protect the rights of all Americans, whether it is an investigation like this, or whether it's an investigation of somebody's 19-year-old son, is to make sure we look at all the evidence. Not just what one critic may say here or one person may say here, but all of the evidence, and make a judgement based on the hard evidence and not on conclusions that are not based on the full record. That's an important effort in protecting the rights of Americans. (352K wav sound)
"Now, there's a second provision of the statute that says that if I find specific and credible evidence that another person who's not covered by the act may have violated a federal law, and the investigation of that person would create a conflict for the Justice Department -- a political, personal or financial conflict -- then I have the discretion to ask for the appointment of an independent counsel. At this point, I have not found a basis for determining that there is an actual conflict.
"Now people say, 'But there seems to be an appearance." When Congress passed this law, the first version of it said, as I recall ... 'a conflict or appearance of conflict.' The language with reference to 'appearance' or 'apparent conflict' was taken out, so I've got to find an actual conflict. And what I do, is on a case-by-case basis, look at all the facts, look at the context, look at the people involved, look at the particular setting, and try to make a judgement as to whether the Department of Justice has a conflict that would prohibit it from investigating. And that's what we have done in this process.
"But what we're continuing to do, which is so important, because I think everybody is committed to seeing that justice is ultimately done, and that anybody who has violated the law is held appropriately accountable. Since November, we have had a task force of very fine prosecutors who have served in both Republican and Democratic administrations who are career prosecutors, working with a team of FBI agents to thoroughly review and pursue every lead that is developed to make sure that people are held accountable. "At the same time, as we review all the information that comes in, I have asked them to constantly review it, to see whether there is any basis for concluding that there is a conflict, or a situation that should trigger the invocation of the independent counsel statute. And as I explained to [Judiciary Committee Chairman] Senator [Orrin] Hatch [(R-Utah)], this is something that is ongoing, and if I am advised, or if I determine that there is a conflict and that the statute should be triggered, then I will do so without hesitation."
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