Post: FBI Director Freeh Wanted Independent Counsel
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, May 7) -- FBI Director Louis J. Freeh urged the appointment of an independent counsel to probe Democratic campaign fund-raising abuses, based on early evidence suggesting White House involvement, according to The Washington Post.
The Post reported today that despite Freeh's suggestion, Attorney General Janet Reno decided last month to follow the advice of other Justice Department officials who said it was unnecessary for her to seek a special counsel.
Freeh made his recommendation in an oral report, concluding that the Justice Department faced a possible conflict of interest in examining the actions of several top aides to President Bill Clinton.
The Post quoted one unnamed person it described as familiar with Freeh's analysis as saying Freeh concluded that the evidence could "lead to individuals who helped re-elect the president."
But other officials sought to downplay the disagreement between Freeh and Reno, and said the FBI director did not try to force his view on the attorney general. "It is not a huge conflict," said one official quoted by the Post.
On April 14, Reno decided against seeking a special prosecutor. Later, in an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Reno was grilled by committee members, but said she did not intend "to violate any oath in this matter because of any pressure from any quarter. Not from the media, not from Congress, not from anywhere else. And I'm not going to do things based on polls; I'm going to do things based on the evidence and the law."
Freeh declined to comment to the Post on his recommendation, but word of it did not surprise Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch. "He's just reading the statute," the Utah Republican said Tuesday.
Hatch called it "definitely significant, since Freeh is the individual responsible for conducting the investigation."